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Jennifer Rowland Small

In 1969, Jennifer Rowland Small had enrolled at MICA with a dream of pursuing a career in art education. After a chance to make history delayed that achievement, she’s making good on that promise now, 42 years later.

“Things happen in one’s life that derails you somewhat,” Rowland Small said. In her case, the detour came in the opportunity to be one of the first female jockeys in the state of Maryland. Raised in Owings Mills, Maryland, with a love of horses and an appreciation for art, it was a natural choice for Rowland Small to attend MICA, since her mother, Dorothy Hogarty Rowland, had graduated from MICA in 1964. While at college, Rowland Small would exercise horses part time. “I’d get up at 3 am and go down to the racetrack and gallop horses,” she said. “And I’d be in my first class by 9:30.”

In 1971, the jockey offer was one she couldn’t refuse. “I felt that the opportunity was fleeting,” she said, explaining her choice to leave college and pursue racing—and winnings her family needed—full time. “It was a very difficult decision for me because my education was extremely important,” she said.

After Rowland Small made a name for herself as one of the leading apprentice jockeys in Maryland and won numerous races including the Loch Raven Stakes, an injury in 1977 meant she could no longer race. However, she continued to own, breed, and train horses. She bred a number of award winners, including Touch of Class, a winner of two Olympic gold medals for jumping in 1984.

Throughout it all, she has maintained a relationship with MICA, taking classes in each decade since the 1960s. “With everything that’s gone on in my life, I have kept painting,” she said. “I’d like to transition to an art-related career. That’s my next goal.”