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Emily+Magnuson+discusses+her+journey+from+being+an+artist+in+New+York+City+to+becoming+a+teacher+in+Iowa+City.

Defne Bayman

Emily Magnuson discusses her journey from being an artist in New York City to becoming a teacher in Iowa City.

Emily Magnuson

One moment, art teacher Emily Magnuson was riding her bike through Chinatown in New York City on her way to work for an artist. The next moment, she was back in Iowa recovering from cancer. Magnuson hadn’t originally envisioned herself teaching art at West, but clearly, life had other plans for her.

“I just saw [Iowa City] with a new perspective,” Magnuson said. “Being a cancer survivor and being someone who’s chronically ill for the rest of their life, I needed a lifestyle that was a little more chill.”

Being a cancer survivor and being someone who’s chronically ill for the rest of their life, I needed a lifestyle that was a little more chill.”

— Emily Magnuson

When Magnuson found out she was diagnosed with cancer, she moved back to Iowa, the state where she was raised, to live with her parents and recover. While undergoing chemotherapy, Magnuson began volunteering at the crisis center where she discovered she enjoyed working with kids.

“When I’d hang out with kids whose families were in crisis, we’d just sit around and make art together,” Magnuson said. “I just really love the interactions we’d have.” 

Now, Magnuson can’t imagine having a job without interacting with people. Creating connections and building relationships is one of her favorite parts about her job. 

“I love the connections, I love helping people,” Magnuson said. “Having a place to go every morning, where I’m going to do some good in the world. I’m not stuck under a business where all I’m focused on is making money for the business. I have an impact on people and it’s really sweet in that regard.”

I have an impact on people and it’s really sweet in that regard.”

— Emily Magnuson

After working with kids all day at West, Magnuson goes to her art studio, where she works as a ceramicist. In her free time, Magnuson enjoys gardening, cooking and reading nonfiction books of all kinds. Overall, Magnuson feels ready for this school year.

 “I’m really excited because we get to do more projects, and we get to experiment with more materials and we just get to do so much more [in class],” Magnuson said. 

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