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Jennifer Oswald
Alumni Spotlight — The Dancing Doctor of Princeton

Jennifer Oswald
By Dani Replogle, grade 12, Towson High School and Communications Office intern

It’s no secret that high school seniors are often unsure about which direction to head in life. However, Jennifer Oswald, a 2007 graduate of the George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology, proves that “undecided” doesn’t necessarily mean unsuccessful.

Balancing challenging academics, dance, and student government

Oswald enrolled at Carver hoping that the school’s artistic focus would help her pursue her love of dance and possibly lead to a professional career. Four years of fitting in excellent grades with an intensive dance schedule and student government activities earned Oswald a spot at Princeton University in the fall of 2007.

Beyond the school level, Oswald became involved in student government at the county, state, and national level – serving as president of the Baltimore County Student Councils, an annual delegate to the Maryland Association of Student Councils Legislative Session and Convention, and delegate to the National Association of Student Councils Convention.

The opportunity to work with the superintendent

Oswald also served, for two years, on the Baltimore County Public Schools’ Superintendent’s Student Advisory Board. Dr. Hairston appoints several students to this board each school year and meets with them monthly to gain students’ perspectives on key educational issues. According to The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore County Public Schools is the only school system in the region in which the superintendent meets this frequently with student advisors.

 “The group is important,” Oswald notes, “because the students' viewpoint is much different from that of administrators. Combining the two viewpoints, as in the Advisory Board, creates a well-rounded picture of the present state of schools, which can then be analyzed and improved upon. Additionally, the combination of thought from both students and administrators allows for new ideas to be explored and - most importantly - acted upon.”

Oswald says that the biggest impression the Board made on her came in the form of learning how to “continually strive for improvement.” She says, “I could list everything I learned specifically about BCPS, but the general exploration of new advancements has made a lasting impression on me. Being able to recognize areas of weakness and then collaborating to discover the best way to strengthen those areas is an important skill throughout life.”

Reflecting on her student government activities, Oswald notes, “The things that take up my time are different now, but, being so busy in high school helped me learn to manage everything.”

Making major decisions

Oswald, like many other high school graduates, went into college unsure of which major to which she would commit, but with the declaration deadline fast approaching, she will most likely choose to study ecology and evolutionary biology.

Even as a sophomore, she has already almost finished her pre-med requirements, which will open up her schedule for more focused, in-depth classes on topics pertaining to her specific areas of interest.

Microorganisms and ecosystems haven’t completely usurped dance in Oswald’s life, however. She still hopes to minor in dance and will continue her classes at Princeton, as well as her volunteer work at the Mercy High School Dance Department as a guest choreographer.

Looking back at Carver

Carver is a very different kind of high school. Students are accepted into the magnet school based on their skill in various artistic mediums, including visual arts, cooking, and carpentry in addition to dance. Each Carver student receives the standard mathematics, science and reading courses, but is also expected to take classes related to their individual interest. This specially geared curriculum allows aspiring artists to specialize in one area of study at a younger age, giving them an edge on any competition.

“It’s a great community with a very unique atmosphere,” says Oswald of her alma mater. “Everyone was passionate about what they were working on, which is very much how college is.”

Oswald has considered combining her two passions with a career in orthopedics where she could help dancers with ailing or tired toes, but for now her future is still very much up in the air. No matter which path she chooses to twirl down, Oswald considers her years at Carver irreplaceable.

“Carver gave me a lot of experience and tools I needed to become a leader in ways other than government,” she says. “The dance program at Carver is something I would never undo.”

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