An Ursinus Family Story Starring Mike Injaian ’75
For us, Ursinus really is a family. It all started with my dad, Mike Injaian (’75). Long after my dad graduated, he encouraged many of my cousins (Nancy (Tashjian) Hepensteil ’91, Michelle (Derderian) Yilanjian ’94, John Derderian ’96, Melissa (Gemmell) Derderian ’97, Mark Yilanjian ’24), my sister (Lisa (Injaian) Hoover ’06), and me (Allison Injaian ’10) to attend and get involved in the Ursinus campus community. That’s right—our family has single-handedly created the unofficial Ursinus Armenian Alumni Association, and we meet almost every holiday.
At Ursinus, my dad was a chemistry major who went on to earn a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Penn State. He then had a long and successful career as a chemical engineer for Air Liquide Inc., before retiring in 2020. And, although his academic experience at Ursinus prepared him well for his career (as did the rest of ours), what stands out most when I think about my dad’s college experience are the components of it that were beyond the academics.
My dad was on the Ursinus men’s basketball team and was an active member of Beta Sigma Lambda fraternity, and it’s these connections that he still actively maintains today. These are likely the reasons you might recognize him from around campus—a 6’ 7” guy who has played in the Ursinus alumni basketball game for over a decade, always wearing his vintage teal suede Nike basketball sneakers and who regularly attends Ursinus’s homecoming, always wearing his vintage Beta Sig letters.
My dad’s Beta Sig friendships of 50+ years are genuinely remarkable. Just to put it in perspective, these guys have gotten together every year for at least the last 30 years for” Beta Sig Weekends” in the Poconos and elsewhere, hiking, kayaking, biking, whitewater rafting, and partaking in their fair share of shenanigans. Have you even heard of a friendship so consistent?! Their friendships that started through shared experiences and interests at Ursinus have literally lasted a lifetime, and provided support to our family, in good times and bad. My sisters and I each had a Beta Sig table (or two) at our weddings, filled with my dad’s buddies who happily celebrated alongside us, and perhaps, more importantly, they showed up to rally around my dad when my mom passed away from cancer in 2016. The Beta Sig guys even helped me collect pictures for this very feature. These types of genuine, constant friendships are inspiring: they’re what encouraged me to get involved in Greek Life (Tau Sig!) and other organizations at Ursinus and provided an example of what lifelong friendship can look like.
When I reflect on it, I think that’s the story here. Throughout his time and Ursinus, and well beyond—my dad’s genuine, down-to-earth nature has drawn similarly great people towards him, and had positive impacts across generations of our own family. His friends and family have stuck with him, he’s stuck with them, and it all centers around Ursinus campus and community. When you count up the years, my dad’s involvement at Ursinus has spanned 5 decades—50 years. It’s certainly a legacy worth celebrating, and he is certainly a person worth celebrating. Happy 70th birthday, Dad! We love you!