University of Windsor Alumni Magazine
Monday, December 9, 2019 - 18:20

Academic torch passed through memorial scholarship gift

Jacques Aharonian
Alumni Profile
Fedela Falkner

How to celebrate a life well-lived and honour the legacy of a woman who was born, raised and lived in Windsor’s west end? How to recognize a woman fully connected to the University of Windsor both because of her own education and the students she mentored? Those are the questions Jacques Aharonian asked himself when he lost the love of his life, Mary Anne Johnston ND ’58, BSc ’62, BA ’78, MA ’82, PhD ’86, in July 2018. 

Jacques found the answer, in part, by establishing a scholarship in Mary Anne’s name. The Dr. Mary Anne Johnston Memorial Scholarship will support a mature student who identifies as female and is returning to study at the University of Windsor. The award is open to undergraduate or graduate students in any academic discipline and endeavours to mirror Mary Anne’s own academic journey.

Like many careers, Mary Anne’s had several phases and began as a laboratory technologist at Hôtel-Dieu Hospital – a position she held until the birth of her first child. Her next career was raising children Matthew, Christopher and Elizabeth. 

By 1974, she had returned to school as a mature student to work toward an Honours BA in psychology, followed by a Master’s degree while juggling her studies with family responsibilities. Mary Anne was later accepted into UWindsor’s Clinical Psychology PhD program.

While working full-time as a psychometrist at the Windsor Public Board of Education, she wrote her dissertation and was able to apply her academic learning to a community setting – successfully defending her dissertation.

Dedication to helping students brought Mary Anne back to the University of Windsor where she accepted a position as counsellor in the Psychological Services and Research Centre. In her soft-spoken, methodical but determined manner, and with the help of her colleagues, she was able to launch the new Student Counselling Centre in the CAW student centre. 

Dr. Johnston was a lifelong learner – not only through her formal education, but through her work with students, in her private practice, and by reading voraciously. She had a love for the community and travel, and considered her relationships with her spouse, children and grandchildren to be the most important part of her life.  

Because the university and its students were also such an integral part of Mary Anne’s life, Jacques wanted to connect her story with a legacy gift. The Dr. Mary Anne Johnston Memorial Scholarship will begin with annual donations, and an endowment will be established through an estate gift to honour her special connection to the university.

Scholarships provide an opportunity for students to pursue a university degree by alleviating some of the financial stress which can come with post-secondary education. They enrich the student experience by offering an opportunity for students to concentrate more fully on their studies, play varsity sports, or become involved in campus and community activities. Graduate scholarships are especially appreciated by students who may be returning to school at a time when – like Dr. Johnston – family and other obligations make pursuing an advanced degree financially challenging.

Ways to give:

  • Make a tax-deductible donation to the University of Windsor to support a current scholarship
  • Establish a scholarship by donating annually
  • Create a scholarship endowment. The principal will be invested. Only the interest earned will be awarded thereby providing an award to be given in perpetuity 
  • In addition to cash, the University accepts gifts of stocks, insurance policies and estate gifts. For more information contact Krista Spagnuolo, Development Assistant 519-253-3000 Ext. 3229 or