Suffolk University Student Ruby Des Jardins Wins National Irene Ryan Scholarship Award


Ruby Des Jardins almost had to pinch herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming.

“Shock, surprise, disbelief – I felt all of those things when they called my name,” said the personable Suffolk University theatre department student, and a native of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. “I couldn’t believe that I won.”

Des Jardins is one of two national winners (Letitia James of Virginia Commonwealth University is the other) of the 2003 Irene Ryan Scholarship Award. Both winners were recently honored after performing at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Washington, D.C.

“ Winning this award feels great,” said Des Jardins, who received a $2,500 scholarship, and a beautiful trophy that resembled an Oscar award-like figure holding a star in the air. “I am really proud for my school and my island.”

She was not the only Suffolk student shining in the spotlight. Alex Pollock, a freshman theatre major at Suffolk, did an outstanding job in his role as Des Jardins’ scene partner.

“ Alex played a very important part in my winning,” said Des Jardins, a junior majoring in English and theatre at Suffolk. “I couldn’t have done it without him.”

The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Award process begins in eight various regions where up to 300 nominees and their acting partners audition. From this number, 36 students are chosen for a semi-final round, followed by 16 individuals being selected to compete in the final round.

“ The entire competition was a very exciting and educational experience,” said Pollock, who is from East Montpelier, Vermont. “I’m glad Ruby won. I’m always confident in her ability.”

Des Jardins presented a monologue, Clytemnestra, from Ellen McLaughlin's Iphigenia and Her Sisters, and a scene from Shel Silverstein's, A Bloomingdale's Shopping Bag, before a five-member judging panel comprised of leading directors, producers and casting agents.

Des Jardins and Pollock worked closely on all levels of the competition with Dr. Marilyn Plotkins, Theatre Department Chair at Suffolk University. Dr. Plotkins’ coaching was crucial in supporting the students during their long road to the Kennedy Center. Suffolk Professors Wesley Savick and Melinda Lopez, and guest artist John Arnold, also provided invaluable support to the student performers.

“ This is a thrilling achievement for Suffolk University and our Theatre Department,” said Dr. Plotkins, who attended the festival in Washington, D.C., joining Des Jardins’ grandparents (they live in the area) and Pollock’s father in the Suffolk cheering section. “Ruby worked extremely hard to earn this victory by reading many scripts, carefully selecting her pieces, and rehearsing every conceivable moment. She also chose a great partner in Alex.

“ Ruby and Alex are extraordinarily bright, gifted and ambitious students and I couldn’t be more proud of them. They’ve worked diligently and very well together to get where they are today, and to hear ‘Suffolk University’ spoken enthusiastically from the Kennedy Center stage was a memorable moment.”

Des Jardins, who began acting when she was six years old, is a talented individual behind the scenes, as well as on stage. A Suffolk Student Theatre production, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train by Stephen Adly Giurgis, which Des Jardins directed, was selected as a 2003 American College Theater Festival regional semi-finalist in the production competition. Furthermore, Pollock was recently selected as a 2003 Irene Ryan nominee for his performance in the Suffolk Student Theatre production of The Conference of the Birds.

Since 1972, the Irene Ryan Foundation of Encino, California, has awarded a scholarship to the outstanding student performer at the national festival. The scholarship is made possible by the generosity of the late Irene Ryan who is best remembered for her portrayal of the lovable and feisty 'Granny Clampett' in The Beverly Hillbillies.

Des Jardins has been awarded a full scholarship and Pollock a partial scholarship to attend The Actor's Boot Camp near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The Boot Camp is an intensive professional program for television and film actors run by Dawn Wells, a veteran television actress who portrayed Mary Ann in Gilligan's Island.

During the past four years, Suffolk University’s Theatre Department has shined brightly in the American College Theatre Festival production competition. Productions such as The Three Sisters, Cabaret (performed at the Regional Festival in 2000), Buried Child and Othello (performed at the Regional Festival in 2002) have been nominated as regional finalists or semi-finalists.

For more information, please contact:
Tony Ferullo at 617-573-8448

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