Close your eyes and imagine never hearing music again. Imagine never having music in your life at all.
“Your life would dwindle. You would become less of a person, almost like a robot,” said Jane Bedrosian. “Music is the essence of life.”
Music, she says, is helpful for a multitude of purposes. It inspires us and sparks our creativity, entertains us, heals us, and makes us feel good. We can also share music with others and use it as a tool for teaching and learning.
Bedrosian believes so strongly that music is central to our core that she would like to see it integrated into math, science and other curricula. Through her own experience as a teacher, she has seen how music helps students achieve greater understanding in the classroom.
“We separate that, which is a mistake. We need to integrate the arts together with the traditional academic fields.”
Bedrosian said her father was an immigrant from Turkey who fled the Armenian Genocide. After arriving in the United States, he enlisted in the Army to fight in World War II. While he did not have a formal education, he was well-read and learned to speak English, and several other languages, on his own. He was also a violinist who played for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a jeweler for top companies, including Harry Winston in New York and Van Cleef and Arpels in Los Angeles.
“His claim to fame was he helped put the Hope Diamond together,” said Bedrosian. “The Hope Diamond is in the Smithsonian – the blue diamond with the white diamonds around it.”
Her mother was an engineer who worked primarily in the aerospace industry. She says her parents put their children first and made sure she received an education. They also instilled in her a passion for music.
Born in the Bronx and raised in Long Island, New York, Bedrosian started playing piano and singing when she was six years old. She moved to Los Angeles in high school and received two bachelor’s degrees from U.C.L.A. in Music and English and her teaching credential.
While at U.C.L.A., she met her husband Kenny at the United Armenian Congregational Church in North Hollywood. Kenny was living in the Los Angeles area, working as a school teacher. When he brought her home to meet his family, the tiny town of Fowler, California, was quite a shock to Jane, who had always lived in large cities.
“I didn’t know anything about the Valley. So, we were coming to the area, and we stopped. I said, ‘When are we going to get to Fowler?’ and he says, ‘We’re already here,’” said Bedrosian. “My heart went down to the floor. I said, ‘What am I getting myself into?’”
They married in the Los Angeles area but moved to Fowler so Kenny could farm with his brothers Ernest and Krikor. The three brothers founded the National Raisin Company, which sells products under the “Champion” and “Raisels” brands.
Bedrosian settled into life in Fowler, running public relations for the National Raisin Company and working as a substitute teacher. She also became very involved in the Fowler and Fresno communities serving with a wide range of community, social, political and music organizations.
“My philosophy in life is you have to make yourself what you want to be,” said Bedrosian. “You have to put yourself out there and challenge yourself and not ask for something to be given to you. You have to give before you get.”
She has served as the vice mayor of Fowler, the Fowler City Council, president of the Fowler Chamber of Commerce, president and founding member of the Fresno Grand Opera, and the Music Director at the First Armenian Presbyterian Church in Fresno, just to name a few. She has also performed as a singer throughout her life, including for the Fresno Grand Opera.
Currently, she is part of the Armenian Council, Ag One Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Advisory Board (AHAB) at Fresno State. She is also on the board of directors of the Fresno Philharmonic and is a member of the Central Valley chapter of California Women for Agriculture. At Fresno State, she is involved with the Jordan College of Agriculture and the College of Arts and Humanities as an active member of AHAB.
“Jane inspires all of us with her passion for music and its value for all disciplines,” Dean Honora Chapman attests. “Her generosity helps us provide vital travel support and Dean’s Council scholarships that allow students to achieve their dreams of a degree and future success. We are grateful for Jane’s boundless enthusiasm that encourages us in our work providing a transformative education, and we feel so fortunate to call Jane our friend.”
Bedrosian says being involved in the community is not about her. It’s about doing what she can to better the lives of others and helping them find their inspiration for life. She is passionate about student success and wants to ensure they can overcome any pitfalls due to unmet needs. It’s the primary reason she gives to the Dean’s Council Annual Fund.
“I have a very soft heart for young people,” said Bedrosian. “I want to see others achieve despite their limitations.”