We are excited to present an exhibition of the PJ436 Projects class, WKUPJ’s capstone course. From the depths of the longest cave system in the world to flying over the United States/Mexican border to an arranged wedding in Pakistan, the students criss-crossed their way around the Commonwealth, country and globe to bring you stories that matter.
The Cost of Bats
Kentucky sees implications of deadly fungus decimating bat populations.
BY JUSTIN GILLILAND and BRITTINY MOORE
Bedded rock layers gave way to water that dripped down the earthy limestone rock, covered in thick green moss, and created a muddy floor below. The drops echoed in the deep depression of earth, created by the sinkhole that exposed the mouth of the historic entrance of Mammoth Cave in Mammoth Cave National Park. Brown leaves dangle from rock crevices and concrete steps make up a staircase that leads its visitors into the damp darkness of the underground world.
Slipping deeper into the cave, traversing through sinuous passageways, bats cling to the rocky walls and nestle in small roosts. This cave as well as many others in the park provides ideal locations for Kentucky bats to hibernate during winter months.
Steve Thomas, the monitoring program leader for the Cumberland Piedmont Network, and his crew, outfitted in helmets, headlamps and gloves, worked their way through Bat Avenue – a passage in Mammoth Cave once teeming with bats.
La Lucha Sigue
For undocumented woman, the fight goes on.
BY NICK WAGNER
Diana Lopez is familiar with the non-English speaking courtroom in Nashville. She’s been there twice before to settle two different charges of driving without a license. But circumstances were different on May 4. As an undocumented immigrant in the era of deportation-happy President Donald Trump, stress levels surged when Lopez heard that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were at the courthouse during the days leading up to her appearance. Lopez plans to fight back, no matter if it’s from inside a jail cell, or on the streets of the United States.
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The Femininity Project
BY SALLY JEAN WEGERT
Throughout history and around the world, the idea of what is feminine has constantly been evolving. Despite its changing context, the gendered social construction, made up of both socially-defined and biologically-determined factors, maintains a place of permanence in society today. Women are womanly. They’re feminine. But what does that mean?
Femininity is a fluid concept, open to the interpretation of those who claim it for themselves. For women, the feminine is not a separate entity, but an expression of one’s own identity. The Femininity Project is a magazine profiling nine women with different backgrounds in varying stages of life, each sharing her own perspective on womanhood and the implications of femininity for her personally.
BY ALYSE YOUNG
A look at the deeply rooted tradition of arranged marriage in Pakistani Culture and its collision with the globalizing world.
From honeymoon bliss to cold feet, marriage in Pakistan is the same as any other country, only for the children in the Sadal family it was a fate chosen for them. Putting their trust in their parent’s decisions, they seek out love in a way that diverts significantly from the narrative of a love-at-first-sight culture.
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The Road Not Taken
BY CASPER CHRISTENSEN
Derek Neal was born on August 28, 1985 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. From an early stage of his life he was introduced to wrestling and from that point he was hooked. He would spend hours as a child in the backyard wrestling and teaching himself how to “pop a crowd”, make them boo or cheer, and how he could adapt that to his own performance. At one point he came across a wrestling school in the area where he met his trainer who took him under his wings and taught him about the art of wrestling in and outside the ring.
Thicker Than Blood
Blood isn’t necessarily thicker than water.
BY CASIDY MAYO and KENDALL NORWOOD
In life it is believed that acceptance is something every person deserves, no matter their race, gender, or sexual orientation. A large segment of the population never deals with a struggle for acceptance quite as difficult as gender mis-identity.
Explore the life of Riley McCracken, a recent Western Kentucky University graduate, and his search for acceptance as he continues the process of transitioning from female to male. Because of this transition, Riley has been cut off from his family life. He struggles to find the love and acceptance that a family is supposed to provide. His girlfriend, Kendra, serves as a great source of strength for him and has helped him begin to find himself. He has opened himself up to the LGBT community around him by getting involved with Drag performances and he has established friendships with other transgender people who serve as a new family. Riley’s story proves that blood may not be thicker than water.
Made With Love
The Sixth Love Language: Food.
BY LEAH JOHNSON
Part of what makes us so interesting as humans is that we’re all different. We come from different places, have different families and traditions, and each have a very different life. Somehow, though, we all connect with each other with our ability to love but also with one other thing. Food.
Food has a way of bringing even the most different of people together. It’s so easy to connect over a meal. Sharing food with others can take you from strangers to friends, and sometimes even make you fall in love. There is a sixth love language, and it’s sharing food.
A Jockey’s Journey
BY HARRISON HILL
The sport of horse racing has seen many famous faces throughout the industry. Legendary jockeys and thoroughbreds have come and gone over the past decades, and everyone is doing what they can to make it to the finish line first. For 20-year-old Katie Clawson, her first full year of horse racing has brought about many successes, yet many challenges. Coming off of a major injury two summers ago, Katie has raced at just about every track within the Kentucky circuit already. With nothing but pure drive and passion to keep her going, Katie hopes to make a name for herself as a female apprentice horse jockey.
Human trafficking survivor empowers women with a grassroots Christian ministry
BY SAWYER SMITH
Summer Dickerson, 38-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky, is human trafficking survivor and former prostitute. Within two years, she initiated recovery from her old lifestyle, accepted Christianity, and founded a ministry to empower other women. She is also mother of 11 children, who accompany her in her ministry work. Her relationships with her husband and children have improved drastically since her personal transformation.
Soon after committing to Christianity, Summer started a Bible study for sex trafficking victims. She invites women in clubs and bars around Louisville to a weekly meeting. She invites women in more desperate need to live with her and her family in their home. In summer of 2017, she plans to open a transitional home for them as well. Here they will receive mentorship and community in exchange for maintaining strict rules for recovery.
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Changing Every Day
Over the past 15 years more than 2500 men have pursued a change through the Journey Into Manhood program. But is change from homosexuality possible?
BY RUNE PEDERSEN
Brett lived as homosexual for 10 years — and for a long time, he didn’t even think it was something that should be changed. A serious breakup with his last boyfriend made him rethink his life, which led him to join the Journey into Manhood program.
Today he strives to live the life God created him for, in the hope that he will find a wife and start his own family.
Sam: They, Them, Their
BY EMILIE MILCAREK
We are all born with a brain that is molded and shaped by those around us and the circumstances in our lives. One thing that never changes is the person we are born as. Gender and sexuality are often misinterpreted as black and white or the same thing. This is Sam’s story; a non-binary, college freshmen who is trying to figure out what are the next steps to take after figure out who they are in every aspect and what that might mean to those around them.
An Island in Time
One man slows down as life speeds up.
BY JOSH NEWELL
Life is accelerating at an ever increasing pace. The Internet has made the speed of life race to almost unheard of levels. As a society, the choice has been made to mash the button and hurtle towards wherever it is that the digital age decides to take us. Steve Shafer decided he didn’t want that. As a farmer, a blacksmith, and most importantly, a teacher, Steve has decided to pursue a slower lifestyle in the hills of middle Tennessee.
BY KATIE ROBERTS
Kendra, 15, always feared that she wouldn’t have anyone to be there for her. Two years ago, Ben and Kayla Thompson of Bowling Green, Kentucky, took in a pair of sisters, Kendra and Caitlin, 10, that needed a place to call home. After entering foster care, Kendra didn’t think she had a chance of adoption because of her age. “I knew my sister might get adopted, but I was like I’m not getting adopted,” Kendra said. The past few months, the Thompson family has been preparing for both of the girl’s adoption hearings.
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The Kentucky Wine Project
Nurture by Nature
BY MATT LUNSFORD and SAVANNAH PENNINGTON
Drew and Jessica Rogers, of Smith’s Grove, try to balance full-time jobs, three kids, and the Bluegrass Vineyard. The couple have been working towards their grand opening, but they are forced to postpone it until Drew returns from a one month training session in Hawaii.
Found Hope, A Survivor’s Story
The 27-year sexual assault marriage victim now free
BY ANN MARIE DiSALVO
Connie Knapp, 66 is was a victim of a 27-year marriage were she was sexually assaulted by her husband. Knapp did not have a way out until she finally stood up for herself in a time where she was the most afraid. It was when her husband was being serious about killing her in their own Kentucky home where they lived and raised three children.
Struggle for the Dream
Christina Dawson wants to spend her whole life in service for unemployed people.
BY JING ZHAO
The Founder & CEO of SOKY Job, LLC commits her life to developing an online job search engine used to advertise open positions in Southern Kentucky.