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Mary Kathryn Quinn's parents were Irish immigrants who never really got to pursue their educational dreams. But they tried to instill in their three daughters a belief that education was the key to success.
It's a lesson that Quinn, a former journalist and owner of a Glendale apartment complex, has taken to heart. She has bequeathed $400,000, a portion of her estate, to Cal State Northridge for the creation of the F.W. and Agnes H. Quinn Memorial Scholarship Endowment. The endowment will provide two scholarships a year of about $10,000 each to single parents attending the university. A priority will be given to those students who want to become teachers.
The endowment will provide two scholarships a year of about $10,000 each to single parents attending the university. A priority will be given to those students who want to become teachers.
Quinn, an alumnus of Cal State Los Angeles, said the endowment is a tribute to her parents, Francis William "Bill" and Agnes "Aggie" Higgins Quinn, and in honor of her two daughters-in-law, Victoria Parco Andersen and Mikalanne Quinn, both Northridge graduates. "My daughters-in-law are fine, educated young women who are assets to the community and who came from working class people," she said. "That's who I'd like to help with my bequest: people from working class backgrounds who no one ever thinks of giving a break to, particularly those who want to become teachers. Mikalanne is a teacher, and I think that is one of the most honorable things a person can be—a teacher."
Terry Piper, CSUN's vice president for student affairs, said Quinn's bequest "will allow Northridge to assist students who often are unable to benefit from other financial aid programs." "Specifically identifying single custodial parents as the intended recipients and providing a large enough scholarship that will actually reduce their need to work to pay for educational expenses will allow these students to spend more time focused on their education," Piper said. "If they can spend more time focused on academics, these students will be able to graduate sooner without sacrificing time with their children."
By targeting future teachers with the scholarship, Piper said, the impact of the bequest would be magnified as the recipients enter the K-12 educational system. "Good teachers make such a difference in the lives of young people. And Cal State Northridge produces some very good teachers," he said.
Quinn started her career as a journalist working for the now defunct Citizen News in Hollywood at the age of 19 while a student at Cal State Los Angeles. She worked her way up from teen page editor to reporter, society page editor and eventually city editor of the paper. When the Citizen News folded in 1970, she became executive editor of the now defunct Valley Times before moving into television news at the local Fox affiliate, Channel 11. There she worked as a writer and producer for Hollywood reporter Rona Barrett before becoming news writer for then anchor George Putman. She was eventually named producer of the noon news broadcast for Channel 11. She also would occasionally teach college journalism classes.
Quinn left the news business in the early 1980s when rezoning in Glendale forced her to develop an apartment complex on land she owned, another lesson she learned from her father who believed that owning land represented fiscal security and opportunity. "As an apartment owner," she said, "I see so many young people with massive education debt that can affect their credit when applying for housing. I would like to help some be graduated without such a black financial cloud over their heads."
Quinn is very aware of how hard it is for working parents, particularly single mothers, to get ahead. She spent a brief period as a single working mother herself following the death of her first husband and prior to her marriage to her current husband, Dean Lewinson. "It's really rough being a single parent, particularly if you are female. I know from personal experience," she said.
Quinn said both her parents, particularly her mother, were strong believers that education could make a difference in a person's life. "It was their big thing," she said. "And they were right. Education can truly change a person's life for the better."
"That's why I decided to give to Northridge," she said. "Both of my daughters-in-law attended Cal State Northridge and said it was a great experience. One of them majored in business administration and the other became a teacher. The key is they got a fabulous education. It's a beautiful campus and it's a place where working class people can get a good education. It doesn't get any better than that."