Columbia Philosophy Professor Visits St. Peter’s Prep to Present to Students


image cr. International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation

Nicholas Marusic, Staff Writer '22

Dec. 11, 2019

On Nov. 19, Prep students listened to Dr. Ani Kalayjian, an accomplished psychotherapist and author, talk about her humanitarian work in the developing world.

Many students attended the presentation, including those in Greg Morrissey’s senior English elective, “The Pursuit of Purpose.”  He hosted Kalayjian in conjunction with his course, which covers books about “lives of great meaning and impact,” adding that his goal is to show students how it’s “possible to derive and identify meaning in times of suffering.”

Kalayjian runs the non-for-profit Meaningful World, dedicated to helping underprivileged people find a purpose in life.  They do this through post-disaster humanitarian outreach programs with a 7-step healing model.  Kalayjian explained to students that this model adapts for each community they work with, but is based on the underlying concept that “meaning-making transforms trauma.”

“If you have a meaning in life, it’s like an anchor, like a tree with 10-foot roots” 

Kalajian draws from her own life experiences: she escaped from Syria at just 15 years old, and later had to flee for her life from Turkey, finally settling in America.  Her parents were also survivors of the Ottoman Turkish Genocide.  All of this led her to pursue a doctor of education in mental health and psychology.

Students related the presentation to Man’s Search for Meaning, a novel read in Mr. Morrisey’s class, “The Pursuit of Purpose.”  It was written by Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankel, who actually taught and personally influenced Kalajian.

Mr. Morrissey, in his seventh year at Prep, also mentioned he brings in guest speakers annually, with the next speaker already scheduled next week.

Click here to listen to the exclusive interview with Mr. Morissey