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Five Questions with Victoria Johnson
By Jean Cohoon / February 26, 2014 /   Loading Disqus...
Long-time educator Victoria Johnson established a scholarship fund for students at Rogers High School, her alma mater, where she held her first teaching position, and where she retired in 2003 as principal of the Newport school. She will be adding to her personal legacy as a member of the Foundation’s 1916 Society. Here, she talks about the causes she supports, what inspires her to give – both during her lifetime and through her estate plan – and her hope for Rhode Island’s future.

1. What do you currently support through the Rhode Island Foundation?
I chose to set up a scholarship fund because the importance of an education was ingrained in me at an early age. I had a lot of mentors, mostly strong African-American women. They taught, encouraged, and supported me. And now, I feel that I have a responsibility to help others, the way my mentors helped me. This is part of my personal mission statement that includes four facets that I feel give my life purpose and meaning: God, health, family, and human kindness with God being first in my life. The remaining purpose in my life is to do for my community whatever I can until I can do no more.

2. What does your partnership with the Foundation mean to you?

It means there will be a scholarship available year after year after year to help young people in my community achieve their goals. After reading about all the accomplishments the Foundation has made possible for the Rhode Island community, I couldn’t wait to be a part of the organization.

3. Why did you specifically choose to become a member of the Foundation’s 1916 Society?
I’m giving back to the community now, but I asked myself, ‘How could I do more?’ By giving more in the future, I’ll be able to help many, many more students. I serve on about 10 scholarship committees (including the Rhode Island Commission on Women/Freda Goldman Education Award committee at the Foundation), thus I know that our Rhode Island students are in need of financial help for their education. Giving is an investment for me, and by being a member of the 1916 society I’m able to make a greater investment that will benefit my community forever.

4. What inspires you to give?
Teaching school has been my inspiration for most of my life. For 42 years, my goal was to promote learning for all students. After retirement, it became an extension of my mission statement as I continue to help students and my community.

5. What is your hope for Rhode Island?
I hope that the children I work with, and the minor things I do for them, will help them realize that they also should give back. With a head start towards their own individual endeavors, many will become successful and will be able to give back to others. I feel it is this kind of philanthropy that will cause our community to be stronger, resulting in a give and give back investment for our state.
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