The latest news and occasional commentary about what’s happening at the Foundation and around our great state.
“You have to work for the kids,” says Mary Juskalian, who taught art in Providence schools for more than 30 years. “My kids were doing amazing things like silk screening and filmmaking. I pushed my kids to their limits, and it was amazing what they could do,” Mary recalls.
Born and raised in Providence, one of five children of Armenian parents, Mary first earned recognition for her artistic talents as a student at Roger Williams Middle School. “We were given a 12” by 18” sheet of paper and told to draw a scene with a house in it. I drew a picture, and I won a scholarship to the RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) Saturday School. I went there all through high school,” Mary shares.
After graduating from Hope High School, Mary attended RISD on scholarship, graduating in 1952 with a degree in textile design. She initially designed fabric for D. B. Fuller & Co. in Boston, but soon relocated to New York City where she continued to design while earning her master’s degree in fine arts and industrial arts at Columbia University.
She returned to Providence in 1956, earned a teaching certificate at RISD, and began her teaching career. “Some really bright kids went through George West (Elementary School) and really made something of themselves,” Mary notes proudly.
Active in the community, she served as a trustee of the Rhode Island College Foundation and during her tenure established the Mary Juskalian Upward Bound Scholarship Fund to support an Upward Bound graduate going to college. She also sang, for 45 years, in the choir at Sts. Sahag & Mesrob Armenian Church and volunteered as a docent at Roger Williams Park Zoo, serving as a tour guide and assisting a researcher who was studying the zoo’s monkeys.
Mary established this fund to help in “preparing middle and secondary students for admission to and success in post-secondary education.” Of her decision to partner with the Foundation, she says, “I want the most bang for my buck, and I think I’m getting it with the Rhode Island Foundation.”
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