Alumni Spotlight: Gianna Maita
Gianna Maita, a member of the College Class of 2015, was an integral part of the establishment of Justice & Peace Studies as a major in the College. She was the Program Assistant for the Program on Justice & Peace Studies during her undergraduate time at Georgetown and the 2015 recipient of the McSorley Award, which honors that senior who dedicates him or herself to just causes through research, scholarship, and service. Before pursuing her masters in Justice & Transformation at the University of Cape Town this winter, Gianna will be working as the interim Program Assistant of Immersion Programs at Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice (CSJ). Gianna’s focus at the CSJ will be to facilitate the preparation and planning of the trips in the Alternative Breaks Program and the First Year Orientation to Community Involvement (FOCI) program. She says that her experience with JUPS, especially that with community based learning, prepared her well for a career in reflective social justice. Much of her focus so far has been working with students to develop their engagement with immersion learning and meaningful, sustainable relationships with community partners. Gianna finds the prioritization of a community’s needs and desires above those of the volunteers’ to be intuitive because of her own studies and trips as a student.
When Gianna gets to the University of Cape Town, she hopes to conduct some form of qualitative research. Her research interests include housing issues and peace and social justice education at the high school level. Gianna’s senior thesis investigated the connections amongst transit, segregation, and social cohesion in Washington, D.C., specifically in regards to the streetcar. Her research naturally expanded to encompass the effects of gentrification in the District, which remains one of her focuses today. Gianna reports that her JUPS classes, especially Sustaining Activism with Professor Mark Lance and Strengthening Vulnerable Populations, greatly helped her abilities to critically evaluate social justice initiatives while never forgetting to humanize all involved.
Gianna also engages her JUPS knowledge in non-academic or professional contexts, namely through poetry, reading, and music. Beyond the production of her social justice oriented radio show with WGTB her senior year of Georgetown, she likes to read and write poetry about social justice issues. Gianna always has a song stuck in her head, often one that she will gladly share with anyone who asks. She is a wonderful embodiment of the ideal JUPS student and, now, alumni who continues to engage with the world of justice and peace beyond the walls of the University.