Mary Jane Young was born in 1916, and during the Great Depression she put herself through the University of Minnesota by doing housekeeping and kitchen labor.
After completing a master's degree in social work, Mary Jane worked as a clinician medical social worker, therapist, and psychiatric social worker. Her personal hardships and deep devotion to her profession gave her special empathy for the struggles of non-traditional aged students and students with disabilities.
Mary Jane was highly regarded as a pathfinder in her field. She made many contributions as a researcher and member of the child abuse task force. Even after retirement, she kept busy with professional activities. Mary Jane and Barbara Johnston, her long time companion and confidante, traveled to Mankato, Minnesota, for the Women and Spirituality Conference each year.
Following Mary Jane's death in November of 1989, MSU was honored to receive a substantial endowment from the Mary Jane Young estate designated for scholarships for re-entry women. Barbara Johnston plays a vital role in working with the Women's Center to continue Mary Jane's efforts on behalf of non-traditional students.