The Transformative Power of the Arts

JaLinda Dunovant believes that the world would be a better place if more people could experience the transformative power of the arts. This is because Dunovant’s involvement in arts and culture activities has had a profound impact on her own life.

Since arriving at Penn two years ago, the rising junior from Staten Island, N.Y. has acted in an African American Arts Alliance production called “The Story,” worked on costume design for the production of “Aida,” and gained a deep appreciation of Philadelphia’s vibrant arts and culture scene.

The acting bug bit her at 13 in junior high school when she landed a lead role in the musical “The Pajama Game.” 

“Art has given me a home-away-from-home, kept me sane in the craziest of moments, and brightened the smile on my face,” Dunovant says. “It has literally helped make me into who I am today."

Dunovant, a communication major in the College of Arts & Sciences and a member of the Gamma Epsilon Philadelphia City Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., a service organization, wants to share her passion for the arts with others and help the less fortunate fall for the arts, too.

This year, her interest in public service brought her to Civic House, Penn’s hub for student-led community involvement and social advocacy work. Civic House promotes mutually beneficial collaborations between Penn, West Philadelphia communities, and beyond.

Through the Civic House Philadelphia Nonprofit Internship Program, Dunovant found work as a summer intern at Art-Reach, a nonprofit arts organization in the city that connects underserved audiences with arts and cultural experiences. Her internship, which began on May 27, runs through Aug. 15.

Each year, Art-Reach enables more than 17,000 people with disabilities, economic disadvantages, or other life challenges to enjoy the arts with discounted or free tickets to arts and cultural venues. Art-Reach’s many local partner institutions and organizations include the Penn Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Arden Theatre Company.

When Dunovant returns to campus in the fall, she plans to continue promoting arts and culture at the University and in the city.

Text by Jacquie Posey
Video by Chip Murphy & Rebecca Abboud