Montgomery Art Association

Meet the Recipients of our Annual Scholarships

25 Jun 2021 12:08 PM | Anonymous

By Judith Levine
Education and Children’s Activities Chair



MAA is proud to sponsor annual scholarships in cooperation with the Montgomery College Art Foundation, awarding it deserving Montgomery College students. This year’s scholarships went to two students with international backgrounds: Rahela Majidi, originally from Afghanistan, and Phaedra Askarinam, who was born in Iran before her family fled to Israel in 1991 when she was 19. Their stories parallel growing up as children in countries where girls are rarely encouraged to get an education beyond the most basic needs, and where studying the arts has been forbidden.

Rahela Majidi was born and raised in Afghanistan, a country that is steeped in conservative traditions and is now controlled by a group that opposes educating girls. Coming to the US was a long-standing dream. She was fortunate enough to attend school when a less repressive leadership was in power, allowing her to get a degree in English and Literature in 2012.

She was not allowed to follow her interest in art, which began as a 12 year old. “My only ‘training’ was finding a Bob Ross CD in a bookstore,” she told us.

She has completed 25 credits towards her Associate Degree in art at Montgomery College; her goal is to complete this and the go on to university to obtain a BFA in Studio Art.

Phaedra Askarinam, meanwhile, was born in Iran, her family feeling from there to Israel when she was 19. In Israel, she met the American who would be her reason for coming to the US, where they would marry and raise 2 sons. Her sister and mother still live in Israel.

Though she has drawn her entire life, she only took her first formal art class in 2010. The mother of one of her son’s friends told her she taught private art lessons and encouraged her to take some. That was the start of the journey that took her to Montgomery College, where she completed her Associate Degree. Now, at the University of Maryland, she is studying with hopes to complete her BFA in the Spring of 2022.

She works in acrylic, oil, mixed media, wood, steel, and clay; her pieces include both painting and sculpture. She also enjoys practicing yoga, and she is a certified yoga instructor. She also enjoys large family gatherings for which she is known to prepare Persian food for crowds of 30 or more!

MAA has a long history of providing scholarship money to deserving students. Changing the course of a student’s life is a special feeling, one that every member of our organisation is responsible for. So here’s to our most recent scholarship winners, Phaedra and Rahela, and to every one of you has helped make their dreams a reality.

Membership Chair Kathy Tynan contributed to this feature.

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MAAartists@gmail.com

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