November 12, 2004 —
There really is a Trojan Family, unique and special and caring, and Mihran Agbabian,
emeritus professor of civil engineering, learned just how special on March 1,
Agbabian and his wife, traveling with another couple, were on their way home
from San Diego to Santa Monica when his friend lost control of his car on the
I-5. The car banged into the guardrail, spun around several times and came to
a stop in the middle of the freeway.
“Fortunately the other cars were able to stop,” said Agbabian. “But I don’t
remember it because I lost consciousness.”
The three others in the car weren’t injured but Agbabian was whisked to Mission
Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo suffering from a large gash
on his forehead and a broken hip. He was in intensive care for 12 days and in
the hospital for a month suffering further complications of a blot clot and pneumonia.
“During the time I was in intensive care, it was pretty close as to whether I
would pull through. I thought a lot about my whole life and what was going to
happen,” said Agbabian. “I was entirely dependent on doctors. I thought if they
do a good job, I will pull out. If not, I will die.”
Shortly, Agbabian became aware that he and his doctor shared that special Trojan
kinship. Someone had told the doctor, Edward Bestard, MD, that Agbabian was a
USC emeritus professor.
“I’m cardinal and gold all the way,” said the ebullient Bestard, an orthopedic
surgeon who received both his undergraduate degree (Biology ’75) and medical diploma
(“82) from USC. He also did his internship in ‘82-’83 at L.A. County-USC Medical
Center. “I took special care of him and gave him the works. We hit it off.”
Agbabian said he found someone to talk to and who was clearly taking a special
interest in his treatment. He noted that he is a graduate of UC-Berkeley where
he has continued to maintain ties and where graduates have a strong mutual respect.
“But they don’t have the intimate relationship, the same warm feelings as among
Trojans. I was at USC for ten years. That’s all, not a very long time. But
it was long enough to make me an intimate member of the community,” said Agbabian.
Bestard described Agbabian as a “great motivated patient” who did everything
he was asked and who did well because of his motivation. “He was a very nice
man and very appreciative of his care.”
Bestard, who said he spent most of his time as an undergraduate in the biology
buildings, only vaguely recalls the USC Viterbi School Engineering. He occasionally
returns to campus for football games, but his Trojan ties remain strong. His
sister, his wife’s brother and her father all attended USC.
Is there truly a Trojan Family?
“For sure,” said Bestard.
Agbabian agrees. He is still recovering, but is now looking forward. Before
the end of the year, he hopes to return to the American University of Armenia,
where he is president emeritus. That university was founded by Agbabian and a
He also looks forward to resuming his luncheon engagements with colleagues in
the Viterbi School’s Department of Civil Engineering. After all, they are all
in the same special family.