F&M Stories

From Passion to Podcast

Senior Mia Gwirtzman has always been an artist.

But after a semester at Franklin & Marshall College, she began to realize the broader implications of art.

"Franklin & Marshall has such an awesome liberal arts program and a flexible sort of curriculum that I was able to customize my learning," she said.

That enabled Gwirtzman to create a joint major in art history and public health. Thanks to funding from the Marshall Fellows Program, she traveled to London over spring break to complete research for a podcast focused on both fields.

After returning, Gwirtzman recorded the audio on campus with a podcast kit available for any F&M student to rent. A media studio in Old Main provided a sound-proof space.

Below, learn how Gwirtzman's academic passions led her to London.

Mia Gwirtzman '24

Tell us about your Marshall project.

This spring, I had the most amazing opportunity to travel to London on the Marshall Fellowship. London is home to the Wellcome Collection, a vast library filled with primary and secondary medical sources.

During my trip, I focused my research on the larger ethical question of displaying medical information through the lens of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. When I got back to the states, I consolidated my research into an episode of a podcast.

How did you combine art history and public health for this project?

I took an art history course at F&M — "Survey of Art History" — and I fell in love. I was always a creative person. I love trying out new mediums: drawing, painting; I do it all. So I thought art history would be a great way to carry out my passion while learning about a historic time period.

[Marshall funding] gives you a lot of freedom to make a meaningful project. Originally, my plan was to do an art installation. Before public health, before everything, I'm an artist.

That all changed when I was driving back to campus one day, listening to a public health podcast. They were talking about the history of epidemics. And meanwhile, I was taking my first public health class, "Public Health in the United States," with Nicholas Bonneau [adjunct assistant professor of history].

It was that moment on the Pennsylvania Turnpike where I had this brilliant idea: What if I make a podcast? What if I combine my two interests — history and public health?

Why did you choose F&M?

It was honestly love at first sight. I had never felt so connected to a school. When I was walking the campus, I really did see myself here. I knew that I was going to thrive here.

I could not have ever expected this amount of support and research opportunity as a humanities scholar, as a public health student. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self, "Although you're excited, get more excited about how much you'll learn, change and adapt."

"F&M has such an awesome liberal arts program and a flexible sort of curriculum that I was able to customize my learning."

– Mia Gwirtzman

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