ATLANTA — During her first job after graduating from Georgia State University, Jacinta White (M.P.A. ‘00) visited an Atlanta community center. Noticing it lacked a literary arts program, she decided to create a youth poetry program and proposed it to the director. Her proposal was accepted.
“I wasn’t expecting that. I was working a full-time job, and my goal was to open my own community center. I had never thought of creating arts programs for other organizations,” White said. “The executive director asked how much I charged per hour to do consultation work. I wasn’t planning on asking for anything, but I wasn’t going to say ‘no’.”
So, she worked at the since-closed center, Capitol Area Mosaic, during her lunches and weekends. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with youth on their poetry,” she said. This led her to start a community consultation company, The Word Project.
White’s entrepreneurial spirit and openness to new opportunities has driven her career. She envisions it as a dual path with the common threads her passion for art and community involvement. The springboard, she admits, was her M.P.A. degree concentration in nonprofit studies.
For example, after working as a corporate trainer for a consulting firm, she founded her own, Deeper Dive Consulting, eventually registering her own LLC. The other company she founded, The Word Project, is community-oriented. “That one is less teaching and more sitting in a circle and reading poetry,” she said. “I’m always toggling between these two lanes.”
As for her art, White never stopped writing poetry. Her father’s presence is felt throughout her work.
“Actually, his sudden passing is part of what drove me to graduate school,” she said. “I really went through the grieving process when I moved to Atlanta, away from my family. Once I was out in the world after graduation, I decided to focus on art, and that’s what ultimately brought me to where I am.”
Years after graduation, she released her first poetry collection, broken ritual, which dealt with this grief. She launched her sophomore collection, Resurrecting the Bones, in September. It is a chronicle of her travels around the rural South, visiting African American cemeteries of churches where her father and grandfather served as pastors.
As much as her art deals with the past, White focuses on the present moment to maintain balance among her many projects. She also remains open to new opportunities in her future.
“Lately I’ve been trying remember that I can’t do it all!” she said. “But a lesson I’m always learning is that saying ‘no’ to something is really just saying ‘yes’ to something else that really sparks me.”
Who knows what artistic calling, service opportunity or business venture may be on her horizon?
By Sumar Deen, Student (M.S. Clinical Mental Health Counseling, ‘21)
Photos: Shaw Photography Group