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C of I alumna named Marshall Scholar finalist

Art has always been an influential part of College of Idaho alumna Megan Mizuta’s life. It was in the third grade that she announced her intention of becoming a museum docent after visiting the Boise Art Museum. A few years later, it was an image of Diego Rivera’s The Flower Carrier that made a lasting impression.

“We drew it in oil pastels on black construction paper,” Mizuta said. “Mine turned out particularly well and my parents hung it up in our living room, where it stayed for several years.”

And it was the goal of curating interdisciplinary art and literature exhibitions that earned Mizuta the right to be called a Marshall Scholar Finalist. Each year, up to 40 scholars are selected for graduate studies in any field at a United Kingdom institution. The goal of the scholarship is to create an enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments and their institutions.

The journey to applying for the Marshall started while Mizuta was working on her master’s degree in library science at Simmons College in Boston. Mizuta interned at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where she eventually was hired as a temporary assistant.

“I’d spend half of my lunch with coworkers and the other half in the galleries,” Mizuta said. “It was a really different experience to go to the same museum every day for a year and still want to stay after work, go in early, or go on the weekends.”

Seeing the exhibition side of museums reignited that spark of third-grade-Megan’s desire to work in a museum. So, with the help of C of I professors, Mizuta put together a Marshall application and eventually flew to San Francisco for her finalist interview—and also to visit a few museums.

It just so happens that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art owns Diego Rivera’s The Flower Carrier. So upon her plane landing, Mizuta went to view the painting she’d only seen in pictures. After spending a half-hour with the painting, Mizuta decided to draw it again.

“I think my sixth grade drawing was better than my 23-year-old sketch, but it was important to see The Flower Carrier in person, to take in its aura,” she said. “Although I didn’t end up winning a Marshall Scholarship, being in that museum and seeing that painting felt pretty affirming, both for my sixth-grade self and for my present self.”

Mizuta has had various educational interests—she came to the C of I to study political economy, but changed majors to English literature because it “didn’t feel like work”— but in the end, she was led back to her childhood passion—the museum.

“Megan moves quite comfortably between fields of study, readily identifying correspondence and dialogue art, literature, history, and environment,” said C of I English Professor Sue Schaper. “She’s so quiet and matter-of-fact about her abilities and she works so efficiently under her own direction that she’ll continually surprise you when you find out what she’s been up to.”

Even though Mizuta was not awarded the Marshall Scholarship, she hasn’t slowed down one bit. She’s already “off to the races,” accepting the position of associate registrar for loans and exhibitions at the Natural History Museum of Utah.

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.