Dr. Jack Kevorkian, well-known right-to-die activist, will speak at UCLA on Saturday about his ideology and time in prison. He will also discuss his Armenian heritage, as the event is hosted by the UCLA Armenian Students’ Association and the Armenian American Medical Society of California.
During the summer, third-year physiological science student Jano Boghossian got the idea to ask Kevorkian to talk at UCLA.
Boghossian sent the doctor a handwritten request, although he knew that Kevorkian rarely agrees to interviews or lectures.
Often also known as Dr. Death, Kevorkian assisted in the suicides of numerous patients while practicing medicine in Michigan.
He was charged with second-degree murder in 1999 after administering a lethal injection to a terminally ill patient.
Since his release from prison in 2007, Kevorkian has continued to profess that all people have a right to die with dignity and of their own accord.
Boghossian said he was shocked when he received a positive reply.
Although Kevorkian routinely declines invitations like the one Boghossian sent, he has agreed to speak in Royce Hall this weekend.
Ruth Holmes, Kevorkian’s jury consultant and close friend, said she believes the doctor agreed to visit UCLA in part because of pride in his Armenian background.
The heritage of this famous figure has the potential to open students’ eyes to the vibrant Armenian community at UCLA, said Nina Babaian, a third-year art history student and president of the Armenian Students’ Association.
Fourth-year political science student Lara Injeyan will attend the event with the members of Alpha Gamma Alpha, UCLA’s Armenian sorority.
She said Kevorkian’s courage to tackle controversial topics makes her proud to share his background.
“I have a sense of pride knowing that someone as notorious as this comes from my culture,” Injeyan said.
“Whether you are for or against Kevorkian’s ideas, he did bring a big issue to light, and he should be given credit for that.”
Though Armenian students may more easily identify with Kevorkian, his talk will be relevant to Bruins of every ethnic origin and course of study, said Boghossian, cultural director of the Armenian Students’ Association.
“His ideas can be applied to a range of fields, and allow the entire UCLA community to debate,” he added.
Medical students, however, should pay special attention to the doctor’s message, said Dr. Vicken Sepilian, president of the Armenian American Medical Society of California.
In a discussion on the ethics of death, it is crucial for medical students to consider different standpoints and broaden their views of the issue, said Sepilian.
Fourth-year neuroscience student Stephanie Biglarian said she intends to refine her ideas by considering Kevorkian’s argument.
After studying Kevorkian’s contributions to neuroscience in her classes, Biglarian said she is anxious to hear his opinions on a more transcendent issue.
“I’m not really sure where I stand on Kevorkian’s ideas,” Biglarian said. “I want to hear him speak so I can figure out for myself what I believe.”
Students who are developing their opinions will have plenty of time to ask questions of Kevorkian, Holmes said.
“An Evening with Dr. Jack Kevorkian” will take place in the Royce Hall Auditorium from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday.
Tickets for the lecture are $15 for students at the Central Ticket Office and $20 for general admission on ticketmaster.com.