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Jennifer Mizgata’s schedule is hectic, but she likes having the chance to pursue her divergent interests. She says she’s grateful to Goucher—“an amazing school”—for fostering her many academic pursuits and for helping her develop her character.

When Jennifer Mizgata was a student at Goucher, the college’s broad curriculum and numerous off-campus learning opportunities allowed her to explore her interests in community service, Latin-American studies, and photography. Since graduating in May 2005, the international and intercultural studies major has found ways to incorporate these varied pursuits into her work, education, and volunteering.

By day, Mizgata does administrative work for the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, a nonprofit human-rights organization in Washington that promotes responsible U.S. policy in Guatemala and coordinates local activism.

She commutes from Baltimore three days a week to help organize and run the small organization, drafting and delivering letters to Capitol Hill, writing articles, and establishing collaborative partnerships with other organizations. Mizgata says the job has given her good hands-on experience and valuable insight into the political process—which, she admits, can be maddening at times.

“It’s very frustrating to go to deliver letters to Senators about this issue while the U.S. is busy trying to build a wall to keep out some of the people we’re trying to protect,” she says.

Mizgata may get a chance, through her work, to travel to Guatemala as a human-rights activist. Or she may decide to go to law school and learn to argue human-rights cases.

“Lots of things are open to me right now,” Mizgata says.

In the meantime, she’s also waiting tables and taking undergraduate classes at the Maryland Institute College of Art to continue her education in photography.

It was a MICA course in social documentary photography that got Mizgata involved with a community arts project called Real City, Dream City, which was launched by Art on Purpose, a Baltimore-based nonprofit that supports arts education and community service.

As part of Real City, Dream City, Mizgata and other community artists conducted a six-week photography workshop in Charles Village to teach intergenerational groups how to produce black-and-white images to capture the “good, bad, and possible” of their neighborhood. Select photos from this workshop—and from workshops conducted in nine other Baltimore City neighborhoods—will be made into postcards that will be used by residents, city planners, policymakers, and urban-renewal activists.

Real City, Dream City connects to an exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art called The City: Real and Ideal on view Oct. 11, 2006 to March 11, 2007.

Mizgata’s schedule is hectic, but she likes having the chance to pursue her divergent interests. She says she’s grateful to Goucher—“an amazing school”—for fostering her many academic pursuits and for helping her develop her character.

Jennifer Mizgata

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