Dr Abedian embraces every opportunity to connect with those he has helped, moved by their stories and interested in their thoughts on some of the world’s biggest challenges, from climate change to homelessness.
He is also happy to share his story too, talking about his passion for architecture, his insights into building a prestige property empire on the Gold Coast and his early beginnings in Iran where he was born.
“Everyone has a story to tell based on their upbringing, condition of living and environment, but they share something in common too, their ability to move from crisis to victory. We can learn from each other’s stories,” he said.
A successful businessman and architect, Dr Abedian, credits his own success to his father’s dedication to ensure he and his four siblings received a university education in Austria.
He has been an ardent supporter of education ever since, with his personal philanthropic support commencing in early 2000 and later through the establishment of the Abedian Foundation.
“I’m personally a by-product of a free education and genuinely believe we can achieve world peace and harmony if people are given access to a proper education, which is why the Abedian foundation has moved to support Griffith University,” he said.
Dr Abedian and his wife Anne are long-term supporters of Griffith University with a focus on helping talented students experiencing adversity through life-changing scholarships.
“I believe, like my father, that access to education can contribute to the betterment of society,” he said.
“A neighbourhood is better when everyone is contributing–a doctor contributes, a landscaper contributes a lawyer contributes, a teacher contributes–this is only possible through education, but that essential right is not available to all.”
In 2016, the Abedians launched the Abedian Foundation Griffith Futures Scholarships Program at Griffith University, committing to the creation of 360 student scholarships. He said he felt compelled to do more when hearing from students struggling to make ends meet while pursuing a degree.
“When we meet with students, we learn about their stories, sacrifices and determination to get a degree and a job,” he said.
“Every person’s story is empowering because they are changing their life and by doing so, creating a better future for the next generation.”
At the program launch, Dr Abedian met with students, Bec Silman and Angus Burkitt, and heard first-hand how a scholarship changed their lives—Bec had been supporting her father and younger brother since her mother’s death and Angus desperately needed hip surgery.
So moved by their stories, Dr Abedian offered additional financial assistance to those students shocking everyone on the day.
“It’s hard to put into words how it feels when I see the smiles on these kids’ faces, it’s priceless. I genuinely wish them all the best and hope they become agents of change,” he said.
Dr Abedian’s philanthropy goes far beyond the boundaries of Griffith University extending into health, research and social equity.
Last year, the Gold Coast City Council awarded Dr Abedian the keys to the city for his charitable works in the community. He was also awarded the Queensland Community Foundation Higher Education Philanthropist of the Year in 2018.
“I believe professional education is important to the advancement of society but so is a moral education. How we practice every day the virtues of becoming more compassionate, loving, generous and understanding,” he said.
“How can we give in some small way to those who need more? How can we make someone’s day better? How can we help others?
“Maybe our efforts offer a small glimpse of light and can be an inspiration for others to do the same.”