Azerbaijan International

Spring 2003 (11.1)
Page 19


ASA Youth Appreciation Awards 2003

Each year at Novruz (New Year's Day which is celebrated on the first day of Spring-March 20 or 21), the Azerbaijan Society of America (ASA) officially recognizes outstanding young Azerbaijanis who are actively working to promote Azerbaijan in the United States. This is the third year in a row that ASA has presented awards. This year's recipients are graduate students Natig Mustafayev and Samira Askarova. ASA President Tomris Azeri presented the Special Recognition Awards at the annual Novruz Dinner, which was celebrated at the Baku Palace Restaurant in Brooklyn, New York on March 23, 2003.

Natig Mustafayev

Natig Mustafayev
Left: Natig Mustafayev

Natig Mustafayev, 23, a Ph.D. student in Economics at Columbia University in New York City, was born in Guba, a city in Azerbaijan near the northern border with Russia. Natig attended high school in Baku and received his undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Economics from Istanbul's Bogazici University (formerly Robert College), one of the top universities in Turkey. While there, he received the highest GPA among the university's economics graduates. Last year, Natig received a full scholarship for five years of graduate study at Columbia.

The scholarship covers tuition, stipend and insurance at $50,000 a year and will enable him to pursue a master of arts degree, a master of philosophy degree, and a Ph.D. Out of 900 applicants, Natig was one of only 13 students at Columbia to receive the scholarship. His specialty is Developmental Economics and Economies in Transition. Natig was recognized by ASA for his efforts to form an association of Azerbaijani students at Columbia University. The group's aim is to organize presentations, talks and conferences in order to familiarize the academic community about Azerbaijan, its history and its people.

Along with Khanum Ibrahimova from Columbia University and Gunel Sultanova from New York University, Natig represented Azerbaijan at the McLaine Leadership Program Gala Celebration event held this past January. The three students set up a booth to display traditional items that represented Azerbaijan. Part of their presentation included a live performance of Azerbaijani mugham music played on the kamancha. Contact Natig at:

Samira Askarova

Samira Askarova
Left: Samira Askarova

The second recipient is Samira Askarova, 23, the first young woman student studying in the U.S. ever to be awarded the ASA Youth Appreciation Award. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in Public Administration at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in Syracuse, New York. Her specialty is public finance and international development. Samira is a graduate of the Lomonosov Moscow State University's School of Public Administration. In June 2002, she received two scholarships to study at Syracuse: The Syracuse University Graduate Scholar Award and the Maxwell Dean's Office Professional Scholar Award.

In February, Samira gave a presentation at her university entitled "Undeclared War: The Khojali Massacre of 1992." She wanted to inform Syracuse University students and staff about the history of Azerbaijan and its geopolitical importance to the world. She also spoke about the Karabakh War, emphasizing the great tragedy of Khojali, when Armenian troops massacred more than 600 innocent civilians as they were fleeing their homes in the night.

Khojali, which had the only airport in Nagorno-Karabakh, was the first town to fall to Armenians in the war that left nearly 1 million Azeris refugees.

Samira is encouraging other Azeri students to arrange seminars and presentations on this subject and has offered to share her handouts, PowerPoint presentation and other materials. Contact Samira at:

Azerbaijan Society of America
Recipients of the First ASA Youth Appreciation Awards, presented in 2001, include: Adil Baghirov, Javid Huseynov, Fariz Ismayilzade and Sanan Nasibli. The 2002 recipients were Siraj Mahmudov, Zaur Mammadov and Taleh Ziyadov. Search at

ASA is a non-profit organization that has been serving the Azeri-American community since its establishment in 1972 in Newark, New Jersey. The organization's primary goals are to foster relations between Azerbaijanis and Americans, to preserve and strengthen the Azerbaijani culture and heritage, and to unify all Azerbaijanis. To learn more about the Azerbaijan Society of America, see:

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