Throughout her girlhood in Germany, her struggles as a single mother and decades typing in bland offices, Ursula Populoh was pulled by two desires — to work with textiles and to graduate from college.
When her daughter started teaching in Maryland Institute College of Art’s fibers program, Populoh walked into a classroom, took a look at a dressmaker’s dummy and burst into tears.
“I felt envious, but not in a bad way,” she said. “This is what I had always wanted to do.”
Populoh wondered if she could return to the classroom roughly 50 years after graduating from high school. What would her daughter think of her mother studying at the school where she taught?
“I was very much in support of it,” said Valeska Populoh. “It took a lot for my mother to feel she could indulge herself in this way after sacrificing for other people for her whole life.”
Ursula Populoh, 73, will receive her diploma at MICA’s commencement ceremony Monday. Her daughter, Valeska Populoh, the fibers department chair, will hand her mother the certificate..
“What more could I want?” said Ursula. “Without a degree, I felt incomplete.”