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Stephanie McKee

“I think MICA’s drive to get their students involved in the Baltimore community is what led me to do the work I did in South Africa.” 

While working on her BFA in painting in 2010, Stephanie McKee took part in the SIT Study Abroad program, which offers undergraduate students opportunities to study overseas. That led her to Durban, South Africa, where she participated in a program called Social and Political Reconciliation and taught inmates painting and fine art to help them prepare to reintegrate into society. “The prisons don’t orchestrate a lot of programs, and they rely on outside stakeholders to provide what inmates need, especially psychologically and emotionally,” she said. “So art gives them an activity in their day, it helps stop the erosion of the mind that happens from being incarcerated, and it helps restore their relationships with their families.”

In 2011, McKee became a recipient of exchange program provider World Learning’s Alice Rowan Swanson Fellowship, which allowed her to return to South Africa, once again bringing art to prisoners in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal Province. “I feel like I was made to be an artist, and I feel like I was put on this earth to make it a better place,” she said. Her work with prisoners allowed her to do both.

McKee credits MICA with sparking her love for community engagement. “I began freshman year with a community arts class called Finding Baltimore,” she said. “I think MICA’s drive to get their students involved in the Baltimore community is what led me to do the work I did in South Africa.”