‘The photo person’

Which art class?  That’s where Jared Miranda got stuck as an incoming Colorado Academy ninth grader, signing up for classes. At his elementary school, he had never had the opportunity to take art. Now, CA was asking him which art class he wanted.

“I knew I couldn’t draw,” Miranda laughs. “Taking a course in drawing would be like beating a dead horse, so that left video and photography.”

Nearly three years have passed since he signed up for his first photography class with Jesse Myers. He has taken a photography class every single trimester since then, except one. When he started, he didn’t own a camera, but with a loaner from Myers, Miranda found his passion.

“We live in a time when everything is moving so fast, and you don’t stop and appreciate what you see,” Miranda says. “Taking a photograph makes you stop time and capture a part of your day to share with others.” 

Photo of Horizons students by Jared Miranda.

‘The photo person’

Miranda turned his passion into a summer avocation last summer as a volunteer for Horizons, the nonprofit program which, for more than 20 years, has brought low-income students to the CA campus for a summer program of arts, academics, and athletics. Even though he is not a graduate of the program, Miranda was intrigued by the prospect of working with young kids. His mother urged him to give it a try, saying “CA has given you so much—this would be a chance to give something back.”

When he discussed his application with Ginger Broaddus, PhD, Executive Director of Horizons at Colorado Academy, she saw how Miranda’s skills could converge with her needs. “Something clicked—no pun intended,” she says. “I asked if he would become our Horizons photographer as part of his volunteer work.”

It was a perfect match. Miranda spent the summer with Horizons students, taking as many as 400 pictures during eight-hour days, and curating the photos into Facebook posts every evening. He was one of two volunteers who showed up to help clean the campus after Horizons ended. He missed one hour during the entire summer—to get his driver’s permit.

Photo of Horizons students by Jared Miranda.

“Every field trip, every activity, every moment, our lead instructors and others were vying for Jared’s time,” Broaddus remembers. “They realized the magic he worked with his pictures, and our students were so fond of him.”

For Miranda, who is bilingual, this was an opportunity to model behavior—and talent—for younger students, who called him “the photo person.”

“I felt like I was giving something that I love to kids who don’t know about it,” he says. “I showed them that you can pursue something that is out of the ordinary.”

‘The first thing I did was take pictures’

At the celebration dinner when Horizons concluded, Broaddus started to thank Miranda, but didn’t even get to his name before the audience drowned her out with applause. “Every one of our guests—from students to staff to parents to board members—recognized that Jared and his work are, quite simply, awesome,” she says.

Photo of Horizons students by Jared Miranda.

Miranda continues to study photography under Myers, whom he describes as “so enthusiastic that he makes me want to keep going.” But he doesn’t need a loaner camera any longer. At the end of the Horizons summer program, Broaddus asked him to stop by for a gift showing her appreciation for his hard volunteer work. When he opened the bag, it was a new camera. “I was at a loss for words,” Miranda says. “It was a huge shock, but the first thing I did was go out and take pictures.”

This summer you can expect to see him taking pictures again at Horizons—but now he will be promoted to staff intern, a position he’s earned with hard work and talent.