Our 2021 Senior Exhibition

With COVID and all that jazz, we recently realized that we overlooked posting the 2021 Senior Class work so we thought before THIS year’s seniors graduate, we want to make sure we recognized the class of 2021 and all of their achievements.

At the end of each school year, we ask our capstone PJ436 students to select one photo that means the most to them from their time here at WKUPJ and to tell us something about the image. We also have linked their capstone projects and portfolios. We hope you spend some time with the work of these talented alumni, it is no easy feat to earn a degree from WKUPJ.

Autumn Alexander

Atlanta, Georgia | Photojournalism major, Entrepreneurship minor


  • Tennessee National Democratic Party


This image is about humor and not taking life too seriously. The day I took this photo I was really stressed out and I wanted my lighting to look perfect. Being that I was stressed out, my subject, Broadway the Clown, could probably sense that and decided to put on the pink clown wig for my portraits. This was a really fun shoot for me. I got to take pictures of Broadway in the wig and I also got a chance to present my project in the same wig as well. Photojournalism and college, in general, has taught me that there is a time and a place for everything. Sometimes it is okay to just let loose.


WKU has made me a better me. Prior to attending WKU I was a shy, timid person that may or may not have been scared of her own shadow. Now I am coming into my own, the young woman I always knew I could be. I am proud of what I have accomplished as a Hilltopper, but a little sad that I have to move on to the real world. However, I know I can always come back and see my WKU family.


Unfiltered Love


A family recounts on their mother and grandmother having renal failure, a disease that takes lives in the black community all too often. They tell their story in hopes that their loss will inspire others to tell their story and take charge of their health. If their story can save one life then it would have all been worth it.


Visit Autumn’s capstone project

Visit Autumn’s portfolio


Grace Armes

Hodgenville, Kentucky | Photojournalism major, Entrepreneurship minor

Annie and Abby Burd are 19-year-old identical twins from Bowling Green, Ky. They have grown up together and left their hometown together to attend the University of Alabama Huntsville on soccer scholarships. They are spending their last weekend together before Abby moves back home to Bowling Green, and Annie stays at school in pursuit of her soccer career and degree. This will be the first time in their lives that they will be living apart.


This 2018 image was taken from my final portrait series in PJ 333, Intro to Lighting. For my final project in this class I decided to do a portrait series on twins because I was a twin myself. I wanted to collect twins of all different types to photograph. Boy twins, boy girl twins, girl and girl twins, I even found a mother of twins that was also a twin for this story! I always had the idea of doing this story before I had even come to college because it represented a part of who I was. Having a girl twin sister is a huge part of my life and I wanted to share that.This is a photo of Annie and Abby Burd. At the time, they both attended The University of Alabama Huntsville on Soccer scholarships. This was taken the spring of their sophomore year in college and Abby had made the decision to move back home and Annie wanted to stay in Alabama. This was the first time in their lives that they would live in different places. Today, Abby is in Cosmetology school here in Bowling Green, Ky. and Annie is in her senior year at the University of Alabama Huntsville. 


WKUPJ has meant so much to me! As a senior, I am so glad that I gave every single project, even if I only had to turn in one single photo, my all. This led me to asking my peers for help, gaining friendships. It led me to use the gear checkout, learning with classmates on what gear would make the project its best. It led me to spending long nights in Jody Richards Hall franticly editing videos the night before the project was due. (whoops) But as a senior, I have realized that this is what makes up the college experience. Living and learning and using your experiences to become a better photographer at the end of it.


Learning Curve: A Kindergartner’s perception of public school effected by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.




How does no-contact learning effect a 6-year-old and her family? Kindergartner Marjorie Young navigates what it is like to be a student and learn virtually while being a sociable little kid amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


Visit Grace’s capstone project

Visit Grace’s portfolio


Ivelliem “Ivy” Ceballo

Tampa, Florida | Photojournalism major (Second degree)


  • Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Bay, Fla.


  • NABJ Visual Task Force scholarship recipient, 2020
  • Mountain Workshops scholarship recipient, 2019


Burmese refugees Thang Khup, Niang Lun and their two children Samuel Lian, 3, and six-months-old Mercy Vaan, play in their home while waiting for their case worker to arrive on Friday, Nov. 30, 2018. The young family began building a new life in the United States on Nov. 9. “I don’t work, have any income, but the government, people around here providing me with food, a place to stay that is a blessing beyond anything I can imagine,” Khup said.

The International Center of Kentucky introduced me to two families, whom I’ll always remember fondly, because connecting with them taught me how much fun this profession could be. I felt really nervous while working on sharing Khup and Lun’s story because there was a language barrier between us. I had to communicate with them via a translator, who wasn’t present the days I went to photograph them, so Google Translate and hand gestures were our friends.

All they brought from their native home was a few clothes, a photo album with 4×6 pictures to remember the life they had to leave behind, and a medium poster from their wedding day on display in their living room, on the wall opposite of the pictured couch they were donated. They had each other and that was enough. Hiding in their shower with a camera while we all played hide-and-seek with Samuel brought me so much joy. This image hangs in their living room now too.

Do you ever find yourself somewhere with a camera and think, how did I get here?…In this person’s space to get to see this moment? That was my WKUPJ experience, and I am so grateful for it. I enjoyed learning about the people and places a camera could help me discover and I look forward to continuing developing this craft.

Although I picked up a camera my first go at college, I never really thought it could become a career. I started out pursuing a career in the military (I know, right? Me. My life was split between leadership involvement in yearbook and JROTC in high school), then life happened and after a hiatus in Brazil, where I served as a missionary, I returned home to finish my first bachelor’s degree knowing I wanted to work in journalism. After a web news internship and eventual job I found myself falling head over heels for the work by a talented team of photojournalists at Deseret News, and I wanted to get out of the newsroom and be in the community so badly that I quit my job to try to do it solo.

I made the decision to attend Western after stopping by for a tour on my move back across the country to start only a few months after I visited, and it’s been the craziest road trip since. I wouldn’t trade the experience and the continued education I gained from Western’s photojournalism program at the cost of stealing my heart with the love and support of so many kind humans connected to the Hill.


God Bless My Journey: Laboring in the field while surviving the pandemic.




A community of essential field workers bonds together amid the coronavirus pandemic. The diaspora of immigrants from Central America already struggle to survive to pay their bills and put food on their tables. When the health crisis struck, the community responded.


Visit Ivy’s capstone project


Joeleen Hubbard

Knoxville, Tennessee | Photojournalism major, Arts Administration minor


  • Zoo Knoxville, Knoxville, Tenn.


  • 2nd Place, CSP Gold Circle Awards, 2020
  • 3rd Place Feature Photo, Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker Awards, 2020
  • George & Francis Tames Scholarship, 2020-2021
  • David B. Whitaker Scholarship, 2020-2021

Incoming freshmen participate in a glow zone party on Wednesday, Aug. 21st, 2019 during WKU Master Plan, an orientation program for incoming freshmen to adjust to college life.

I chose this image because I was able to capture pure joy during a transitional period for all college students. College has been such an important part of my life where I was truly able to grow into the person I have always strived to become, and I loved getting to document that same experience for other college students. Along with that, this photoshoot was one of the first that built my confidence and reassured me that I am able to do this and eventually enter this career field. I left the photoshoot feeling confident and secure in my ability to become a photojournalist and continue my passion.

There isn’t enough time and there aren’t enough words for me to express exactly what WKU PJ has meant to me. When I first began my WKU PJ experience, I would’ve never seen myself being confident enough to photograph a complete stranger and getting to capture the most intimate moments throughout their daily life.

I’ve been able to open myself up to some of the best relationships because of photojournalism and have created some of the best memories, all because of the professors and mentors that have pushed me and helped me grow throughout my time at WKU.

Thanks to WKU PJ, I was able to form relationships with peers who have become some of my best friends, meet and photograph some of my favorite musicians, meet and photograph politicians, and even work as an intern to document some adorable animals! That’s the magic of WKU PJ- you never know where the heck your time and experiences here will take you.


A Second Chance: A couple shares how traumatic events have strengthened their relationship.



Justin Weatherbee was introduced to drugs when he was merely 12 years old. Since then, he has been battling with drug and alcohol addiction while cheating death multiple times. When he met Christina Scott in 2014, he opened up about his journey to recovery; but Scott was unaware of the hardships that the process would bring. The couple soon learns about the struggles that come with addiction recovery but would also find strength and a newfound perspective on their relationship.


Visit Joeleen’s capstone project

Visit Joeleen’s portfolio


Chris Kohley

Naperville, Illinois | Photojournalism major, Sales minor


  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wisc.
  • Appleton Post Crescent, Apppleton, Wisc.
  • St. Louis Post Dispatch, St. Louis, Mo.


  • Bob Adams Journalism Scholarship, WKU Student Publications, 2018
  • David Cooper Scholarship, WKU Photojournalism, 2018
  • 3rd place, Multimedia Sports, The Associated Collegiate Press, 2018
  • 1st place, Sports Picture Essay, Kentucky Press Association, 2018
  • 1st place, Sports feature photo, Pinnacle College Media Awards, 2019
  • Honorable mention, Magazine cover of the year, Associated Collegiate Press, 2019
  • Mike Morse Scholarship, WKU Photojournalism. 2019
  • George Tames Scholarship, WKU Photojournalism, 2020
  • 3rd place, Hearst Journalism Awards, Photojournalism I Competition, 2020
  • 4th place, Hearst Journalism Awards, Multimedia Innovative Storytelling & Audience Engagement Competition, 2020

Keaton McCarty, 19, learned the ways of farming as a child on his family owned farm. Today, he is the owner of his own farm and has aspirations for its future. He says his goal is to give farmers a better reputation in America.

This image is from the 2018 Mountain Workshops in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. It’s of 19-year-old Keaton McCarty sitting the cab of a semi-truck waiting to drop off a supply of grain. There is something magical and infectious about Mountain, I feel like everyone who goes gets a lasting image from it. I have great memories of my story especially because my subject was the same age as me, but we had very different paths in life. Keaton graduated high school and immediately wanted to become a farmer because it is in his bloodline and there aren’t many people who wish to be local farmers anymore.

Keaton and I got along so well because we could have been buddies in college, we were the same age and just understood each other. That allowed some vulnerability out of Keaton which allowed me to make this image. I remember sitting in the passenger seat of the cab making conversation with him and snapping some frames here and there. In this moment he happened to look over his shoulder as a friend approached his vehicle, and that made the picture which ended up in the final story and is ultimately what comes to mind when I think of my most memorable WKUPJ image.

As a freshman, the standard of work being done by those ahead of me was so astonishing and inspiring. Nobody did the same kind of work, and I appreciated the freedom WKUPJ offered you to become the kind of photographer you want to be. I used this freedom to immerse myself in everything WKU had to offer from student publications, the Mountain Workshops, and WKU Athletics. I’m leaving this program having accomplished more than I could have ever imagined as an 18-year-old coming in. WKUPJ has meant lasting friends and connections, a place for me to spread my wings, and given me confidence in my own work and abilities.


Love After Loss: A couple prepares and deals with the loss of their newborn daughter to Potter’s Syndrome




Kylee and Wyatt Weeks were expecting their first child, Naomi, in November 2020. Weeks before delivery, the couple discovered the baby would be born without kidney’s due to the development of Potter’s Syndrome. Kylee and Wyatt then prepared to deliver a child they knew would not survive.


Visit Chris’ and Lily’s capstone project

Visit Chris’ portfolio


Reed Mattison

Bowling Green, Kentucky | Photojournalism major, Outdoor Leadership


  • Outdoor Leadership, 2018
  • Explore Kentucky Initiative, 2017

David Kramer, 85, sits beside his custom-built machine designed to bend wood. Kramer makes Shaker boxes and sells them in Shakertown, a defunct religious community in central Kentucky. David has been making boxes for almost 30 years. “I enjoy it,” David says. “It keeps an old man off the streets.”


This picture is important to me because I felt like I was beginning to hit my stride as a photojournalist. During my time photographing Mr. Kramer at the Mountain Workshops, I had no other distractions or obligations. It was the most feedback I’d gotten on a story, it was the most time I’d spent with a subject consecutively, it was just the most in all aspects. Mr. Kramer ate me alive though, he asked me tough questions, made me work hard to find his story, and gave me nuggets of wisdom I’ll always think about.

I definitely didn’t know what I wanted to do in school. After finding WKUPJ, I wouldn’t want to do anything else. My time here has been so formative and has been hard at times. A word to newcomers: it will get hard, but that’s what makes the trip so beautiful. Hold onto your friends and persevere together. To all my classmates: I love you and thank you. I’m not dying, I’m just graduating.


Green is Easy on the Eyes



Max Farrar and Davida Flowers are two of the 321,000 Millennial farmers. As a generation becomes more concerned about the climate crisis and sustainable food sources, Millennials are finding their way back to the dirt.Max and Davida find gardening while living in Houston, however the constraints of the city, a surprise pregnancy, and the drive to pursue something bigger than themselves lands them in Bowling Green on Max’s grandfather’s old farm.


Visit Reed’s and Mads’ capstone project

Visit Reed’s portfolio


Alex Maxwell

Salt Lake City, Utah | Photojournalism major, Music minor


  • WKYU – PBS, Bowling Green, Ky.


  • 9th place, Hearst Multimedia Category II, 2021

Master carpenter Mark Whitley aligns pieces for a table at his workshop in Smith’s Grove, Ky.


This image of master woodworker Mark Whitley in his shop is one of my favorite shots of a character, and this project represents to me one of the first times I felt like a true photojournalist capturing unique moments.

Being a part of the PJ program has led me to so many unique experiences, behind the camera and otherwise. I’ve made lifelong friendships, and become a better journalist thanks to the great people and professors at WKU PJ.


Recovering Hope: How the community is fighting the growing hunger crisis.




Recovering Hope is a look into how hunger in Bowling Green has been made worse by the Pandemic. It shows how people in the community have sought to fight back against growing food insecurity, and how food pantries and new forms of hunger relief have coped with the rise in demand.


Visit Alex’s capstone project

Visit Alex’s portfolio


Rhyne Newton

Shepardsville, Kentucky | Photojournalism major, Fashion Merchandising minor

Cowles and Leann Crawley, a VA nurse for Hotel Inc. tend to Jeff’s wounds after a fall to the concrete at the Inn. Often times medicines are lost or stolen and never able to found again, without the help of Cowles as the street medicine coordinator. “It’s real and it’s raw and you leave exhausted but you keep going and you get used to it cause this all matters to keep them going,” said Cowles.


This image represents one of those moments where I walked into a high-pressure situation with a subject for my picture stories class. There was going to be a lot of vulnerable situations going on, most of which usually weren’t captured with a camera. But the PJ syndrome kicked in as soon as I walked through the door that night, and I felt like I knew exactly what I was doing. I was able to capture this image, which was able to represent the determination and tenacity my subject had, and I was extremely proud as well as my professor, Mr. Kenney, thank God!

I think the best part of PJ is how you gradually develop your own visual style. Over these four years you go from shooting everything, a frantic mess to catching yourself planning shots in your head before you’re even there. Everything you shoot is blurry, there’s always no good light and don’t even think about captions. But then there’s a switch! One day, you have a killer story, clear ideas of the visuals you want, you are sharp (mostly), and you feel kind of badass and maybe…might be good at this? Nah, that’s going too far. Anyway, it’s been four years and I’ve loved every minute, WKUPJ.


Mix of All Three: Nana, Mom and Dad. At 64 years old, Karen Teyib has to be all three.




A closer view into the realities of single-parent Kinship Care as a grandparent in Kentucky. The state remains at number one for the highest number of kinship cases in the nation, leading thousands of children to be re-homed each year.


Visit Rhyne’s capstone project

Visit Rhyne’s portfolio


Caroline Prichard

Delray Beach, Florida | Photojournalism major, Marketing minor


  • Organization for International Investment

Chad Hayes works on a lure he hand makes in his garage workshop for his small online business in rural Kentucky. Chad started his small business as a passion project that could also help him make ends meet, he works as a full-time electrician the other 14 hours of the day, then returns home to make and pack orders.


This photograph means a lot to me because this was one of the most labor-intensive stories I had done. I was told my freshman year that I would not make it through the program without a car. Four years later, many Ubers, Lyfts, and borrowed cars later, I am here to say it is possible. For this story I had to drive an hour and half into rural Kentucky in one of my friend’s very old and dilapidated cars. I had never driven this far out into a rural area before, alone, with spotty cell service. This shoot pushed me put of comfort zone and l taught me a lot about myself and my commitment to my photography.

WKUPJ has been some of the most challenging yet rewarding years of my life. I absolutely love my WKUPJ family and all the amazing friends and lasting connections that I have made within the program. My classmates are some of the most supportive and helpful people, I couldn’t have made it this far without them.


Getting Out and Trying Again: A  single mother struggling to get her life back on track




Carlandus (Cece) Elis is a 30-year-old single mother, currently living at a non-profit provided housing organization. Cece went through a multitude of trying living situations in her childhood from being abandoned by her mother who was addicted to drugs, being sexually assaulted by her grandfather, and physically abused by her biological father. All resulting with her being in and out of foster care, group homes, and inevitably jail.Cece represents a large demographic of children in America who grew up in single parent households riddled with abuse and how it both negatively impacts them for the rest of their lives.


Chloe Skeese

Berea, Kentucky | Photojournalism major, Creative Writing minor



This image was the first photo that I truly felt confident in. I could finally look at my work and see progress and potential, which became my constant encouragement to keep going.


I am immensely grateful for WKUPJ and all that it has taught me. Being encouraged to constantly step out of my comfort zone to try new things has provided me so many great adventures. I have created new friendships and connections in places I never would have dreamed. The constant support from everyone has allowed me to become more confident in the work I produce and has taught me to never give up on both small and large goals. It may have been the most challenging for years of my life, but in the end, it was worth it.


From Number to Name




Creating a name for yourself seems impossible. Creating a name after enduring years of trauma, pain, starvation, and neglect can be even more difficult. Tyler Hunter-Boards spent the majority of his childhood in different homes. Homes that should have been trusting and loving family members turned to homes that he would never go back to. Now, Hunter-Boards helps create a new legislature for the Kentucky foster care system in an effort to prevent others from going through what happened to him. He has his eyes set on one goal and one goal only, but this was not always the case.


Visit Chloe’s capstone project

Visit Chloe’s portfolio


Emma Steele

Louisville, Kentucky | Photojournalism major, Sales minor


  • Loudoun Now, Leesburg, Va.


  • 14th place, Hearst picture stories category, 2019
  • 3rd place, Kentucky Press Association, Picture Essay, 2019

Randall Davidson brings roses to his wife Megan’s grave every Sunday. “Roses symbolize love,” Davidson said.


This image is the cover photo from my picture story “We can do Hard Things”. This story was one of the most emotional pieces I’ve ever worked on and changed my entire perception as a person and a journalist. I knew that I was doing something right if my subject, Randy, allowed me to enter in on his most vulnerable moments after losing his wife just months before.

WKUPJ has taught me way more than how to be a photojournalist. I have learned how to step out of comfort zones, be bold, communicate better, and challenge myself. It has contributed to a major part of who I am fundamentally. Learning how to overcome challenges throughout the program has been the most rewarding. It has given me confidence that if I can make it through one of the toughest Photojournalism programs, I can achieve great things in the future.


My Family Portrait: Digging into my family’s past to discover the root of my passion for photography.



Knowing that my Great Grandfather had made a huge impact in my life, it was time for me to find out why. Through the stories of his wife, my grandmother, and my mother; I was able to piece together parts of who he was. A story in which the decisions of one man completely changed the fate of generations who came after.


Visit Emma’s capstone project

Visit Emma’s portfolio


Lily Estella Thompson

Paoli, Indiana | Photojournalism major, Political Science and Journalism minor


  • Center for Gifted Studies, Bowling Green, Ky.


  • Reinke Grant for Visual Storytelling, 2020
  • Second place, Hearst Journalism Awards Photojournalism II competition, 2020
  • Hearst championship runner-up and best single image, 2020
  • Third place and honorable mention, spots feature, Associated Press Photo of the Year, 2020
  • Award of excellence, general news, College Photographer of the Year, 2020

Tracey Moore is a certified professional midwife who has been performing home births for nearly two decades. Moore is one of few who practices home births in the Commonwealth, forcing her to travel all around the western and south central regions of Kentucky. She is based in Summer Shade, Kentucky, in rural Metcalfe country. Moore delivers June Hunt on Nov. 8, 2019. Moore’s days are always different. In the last few years, midwifery has taken a much larger role in her life since her midwifery partner, who was more like a member of the family, abruptly had to leave their practice in early 2017. This left Moore to take care of nearly twice as many patients as she felt comfortable with. Shortly afterwards, Tracey suffered a miscarriage of her own at 52-years-old, she believes partly from the stress of losing her best friend and business partner and having to stretch herself thin to take care of all her clients. However, Moore persists. “I always had the heart for it, and then I saw the need for it,” Moore said. “Too many women are run through the birthing machine.”


This photo was quite literally the first time I documented life coming into the world. My midwifery story was a turning point for me— it was one of the first times I really felt like I could do this and that photojournalism life is for me. There are many moments and photos that I cherish, but this story is special to me. Thanks to Tracey for letting me be there, and thanks to all the other subjects who have let me into their lives over the years. The people I have met, whether subject, classmate, professor or coworker, have taught me so much more than a textbook ever could. That’s the magic of WKUPJ.

WKUPJ has meant the world to me. It’s one of the few groups of people where I have ever felt accepted. I may not know every PJ super well, but I know I have a group of people who want to help me and see me succeed and I, the same for them. I am proud of everyone who I’ve met through this program and I am so happy that our paths crossed. The people really are the best part of this program. I learned so much, which is incredible, but it’s the people who I really cherish.


Love After Loss: A couple prepares and deals with the loss of their newborn daughter to Potter’s Syndrome



ABOUT THIS PROJECTKylee and Wyatt Weeks were expecting their first child, Naomi, in November 2020. Weeks before delivery, the couple discovered the baby would be born without kidney’s due to the development of Potter’s Syndrome. Kylee and Wyatt then prepared to deliver a child they knew would not survive.

Visit Chris’ and Lily’s capstone project

Visit Lily’s portfolio


Hannah Vanover

Covington, Kentucky | Photojournalism major, Public Relations minor


  • Beech Tree News
  • Ment Cowork
  • Ohio County Times



This image was taken as part of a final portrait series in PJ lighting class on invisible illnesses. This project was very close to my heart and it meant the world to me to have so many individuals open up about their struggles and allow me to visually portray their pain. I became very close with my photo subject, Kaytlin Morgan, and enjoyed being able to photograph and get to know her before and after this shoot. Kaytlin, later that summer, died unexpectedly and it was the first time that I had to experience the loss of not only a photo subject, but someone that I called a friend. The memories and photos that I have of her will forever live on and I am so thankful that life brought me to her.


I have come out of my comfort zone and done things I never thought I would have. This program has truly become a second family to me and I’ve enjoyed being around so many other people that share the same passion as me. I’m grateful to have been able to build my portfolio and receive so many opportunities. Thank you WKUPJ 


Invisible: Uncovering the reality of hidden illnesses




Invisible. Stigmatized. Misunderstood. Many are fighting a health battle seemingly unknown to those around them. Invisible illness takes many forms and they look and feel different for each individual. What do these people have in common? The need to feel seen, heard and understood. The chronic illness community will be shown in a different light – one that allows those with invisible struggles and feelings to become visible.


Visit Hannah’s capstone project

Visit Hannah’s portfolio


Photo and video materials belong to their owners and are used for exhibition purposes only. Please do not use them without written permission.

School of Media gallery to feature images from recent tornadoes

A Community United: Through Trauma and Grief, Resilience Emerges

Desiray Cartledge, 3, stands in the rubble of what remains of her house in Dawson Springs just one day after a violent, long-tracked EF-4 tornado moved across Western Kentucky causing catastrophic damage in numerous towns including Mayfield, Princeton, and Bremen. A second long-tracked EF-3 tornado came early the next morning in Bowling Green. BY AUSTIN ANTHONY FOR THE WASHINGTON POST


The power and necessity of community journalism never became more evident than the days and weeks following the December 10 and 11 Kentucky tornadoes. As the residents of this Commonwealth tried to emotionally comprehend and realize the trauma that we collectively endured, we were afforded the opportunity to turn to stories of miraculous survival as well as those of heart-wrenching agony. This collection of images taken by photojournalists, many who experienced the storm firsthand, are what becomes the early draft of history as Kentuckians and the nation remember, over time, what happened the night the skies opened and reigned catastrophe over our communities.

There will be a reception in JRH atrium with some of the photojournalists featured in the exhibition on Thursday, March 31 at 5:30  p.m. followed at 6:30 in the JRH Auditorium by a Gaines Lecture Series roundtable “When Disaster Strikes” moderated by WKYU All Things Considered host Alana Watson with Trent Okerson, chief meteorologist, WPSD Paducah; Grace Ramey, photojournalist, Bowling Green Daily News; and Rick Rojas, national correspondent, New York Times. Light refreshments will be served and is free.


An exhibition of 58 images from WKU students, faculty, alumni and local and regional media will be on display March 28 – April 22.


Gallery hours:

Sunday  |  3:00 – 9:00 p.m.

M-W  |  9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Th-F  |  9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Reception and Lecture:

Thursday, March 31 at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.


Jody Richards Hall atrium and gallery on the campus of WKU, Bowling Green, Ky.

Free parking at the Chestnut Street South parking lot after 4:30 p.m. in non-designated zones and in the Mimosa Lot all day Sunday.


This exhibition is sponsored by The School of Media and the Gaines family as part of the Gaines Lecture Series.

Please note that the content of this exhibition may be difficult for some people to view. A picture can trigger a buried memory and recall a precise moment in time. Viewer discretion may be considered.

Contact Tim Broekema at 270-745-3005 or by email at [email protected] for further information.


Witnessing the Destruction

Western Kentucky University photojournalism major, Gunnar Word, woke up early the morning after the devastating tornado outbreak that had ripped through the western portion of the state leveling communities and killing 77 people December 10 and 11, 2021. Word, a junior, began documenting the destruction near the university campus. What started as a one day exploration of his community turned into a week long assignment documenting the aftermath of the storms for Agence France-Presse (AFP) who distributed the images via Getty Images.  Throughout the week, Word’s images ended up being published on NBC, ABC, CBS, Washington Post, The New York Times, and many others. Here are a few of the images from a week that will forever change our community of Bowling Green.

Neighbors walk down what remains of 13th Avenue in Bowling Green, Kentucky after a tornado touched down around 1:30am on December 11th, 2021. According to Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky the EF-3 tornado killed at least 70 people along its 200 mile path

Bowling Green, Kentucky resident Latonya Webb is overcome with emotion as she explains surviving the tornado that hit Bowling Green, Kentucky on December 11, 2021. 


Two children sit stunned after being awoken in the middle of the night by the tornado that touched down in Bowling Green, Kentucky around 3am on the morning of December the 11, 2021. According to Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky the EF-3 tornado killed at least 70 people along its 200 mile path.

Muhammad Raad helps his friends mother sort through what is left of her belongings after extreme weather hit the area, in Bowling Green, Kentucky on December 13, 2021.

A resident of “The Cardinal Inn” in Bowling Green Kentucky surveys the damages done after a tornado touched down around 1:30am on December 11th, 2021. According to Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky the EF-3 tornado killed at least 70 people along its 200 mile path.

Kitty Williams Holds up a sign that survived the storm as her friends and family help gather her belongings of what is left of his house after extreme weather hit the area, in Bowling Green, Kentucky on December 13, 2021. – Kentucky officials voiced relief Monday that dozens of workers at a candle factory appear to have survived tornadoes that killed at least 88 people and left a trail of devastation across six US states.

Mountain Workshops returns to campus

Mountain Workshops returned to WKU campus this year as we offered the options of a Remote workshop or a Live experience for our WKU students. Seniors Brenna Pepke and Gabi Broekema  were able to focus on story for the week with guidance from video coaches Leslye Davis and  Carey Wagner.

Brenna Pepke’s Caught in the balance

Since her partner’s diagnosis, Andee Rudloff has worked to regain balance in her life. As relationships change, so does Andee’s perspective on how to respond to her life’s new structure.


Gabi Broekema’s Underdogs

Brian ‘Slim’ Nash and his daughter, Presley, have a bond stronger than Presley’s condition of alpha-mannosidosis. Presley’s strength against the incurable disorder amazes and inspires her father daily.


Sam Mallon – Finding stories that feed your passion

During Sam Mallon’s past four years at Western Kentucky University the photojournalism major has alway made a point to give a voice to subjects she is passionate about. This past summer her love for nature led her to intern at Acadia National Park where her Instagram feed began to fill with fungi, bees and crashing waves. Here are a collection of images from her past year at WKU where she continues to showcase people and their approach to life. For more of her work visit: https://samamallon.com

“I really liked that [Everly] is able to spend a lot of her days, as she’s learning, outdoors,” said Patrick. Homeschooling Everly, Patrick’s five-year-old daughter, is of utmost importance to her. “I like that she can have access to certain educational materials that aren’t necessarily promoting a history of colonization or that don’t have respect for other species,” said Patrick, “Doing any sort of homeschooling, you can choose [educational materials] that support your values and morals.” Following their Thanksgiving meal, Patrick took her children on a hike with a tray of food from their feast and their garden as an offering to the spirits that protect the land they occupy. Giving thanks, respecting and celebrating the history of land they live on is central to Patrick’s teaching practices for her daughter.

Chiara Jeanfils, a Friends of Acadia Summit Steward, illuminates the night sky with sparklers as her friends look on while dancing on the rocks beside the pier on the campus of the College of the Atlantic prior to the fireworks show on Monday, July 5, 2021.
Derik Overstreet, 24, trains as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter at least once a day and up to three times a day. Overstreet, a local activist in Bowling Green, uses boxing as a release for the frustration and anger that comes as a consequence in doing social justice work. Derik Overstreet, 24, uses his platform as a MMA fighter to promote his non-profit, Bowling Green for Peace, and to cope, “If [activism] was all I did, If I didn’t have some kind of physical outlet, I would have lost it,” Overstreet said.”
Vinny Almeida kisses Sarah Macleod, both of Boston, MA, while Almeida plays ukulele as they walk back along the sand bar from Bar Island Path on Thursday, July 22, 2021 in Acadia National Park.



Zane Meyer-Thornton

Zane Meyer-Thornton, a senior photojournalism major from Los Angeles, California has recently seen success following his summer internship at the Cincinnati Enquirer. His image of a protester won a 1st place finish in the College Photographer of the Year competition for General News. Previously Zane has worked as a Creative in Residence at Boyd’s Station during the summer in 2020 and has worked at WKU Student Publications since coming to Western. This past year he was named to the Native American Journalists Fellowship program, which produces content on Indigenous People and communities. Here are a few of his images from his work this past year. To see more of his work visit: https://www.zanemtphoto.com

A supporter of former President Donald Trump takes a break from protesting the arrival of President Joe Biden on the corner of Delhi Road and Neeb Road outside of Mount Saint Joseph University, where President Biden is set to speak at a town hall on Thursday, July 21, 2021.

Brian Bayley, of Walnut hills, crashes into hay bales as he finishes his race on Saturday, July 31, 2021 at Dangerwheel, in the Pendleton area of Over-the-Rhine. Dangerwheel is an adult big-wheel race where proceeds are used to raise money for beautification efforts in the community.
Being able to help construct the foundation for children is something Guerra keeps close to her heart. She hopes her love and care can assist them on their journey, no matter where their destination may be. “Having a support system for a child is huge. I feel like that’s why I have been able to do the things that I have been able to do. I’ve always had somebody to look up to, somebody that I know has my back,” said Guerra.
Ellie Banaszynski, 5, has a snack between games of Killerqueen on Sunday, June 20, 2021 at Wondercade Cincy. By having only classic arcade games, Wondercade Cincy is helping a new generation of people enjoy games from years past.

WKUPJ Alumni Look Back on 9-11 and their Journey to Cover History

“It made me question if I was holding the right tool, but a camera is the tool of my trade,” – Michael Bunch

Twenty years ago WKU Photojournalism students decided to journey to NYC and Washington DC to document the biggest historical event in their lives, the September 11 attack.  Recently WKU President Gary Ransdell looked back on that day and remembered hearing that students from the Photojournalism program had decided to drive to NYC to cover the tragedy. He explained his first reaction was concern for their safety but quickly understood  we are training them to be journalist and that is what journalist do.


Under different circumstances, a weeklong trip to New York City for three college students would have been a lot of fun. But 852 miles away, history was happening.

Within a couple of hours of hearing of the devastation on September 11, 2001, I was in a car along with two other photojournalism students from Western Kentucky University.

In Bowling Green, Kentucky, I’d left behind a week’s worth of classes, four very understanding professors and two very frightened parents on the other end of a telephone.

“Be careful,” my dad said.

How fortunate that my mom had not answered the phone. I don’t think I could’ve told her where I was going.
On the road, we listened to radio reports of what was happening. We didn’t know what we would find when we got there, or if we’d even get there.
We were scared.

We arrived in New York in the early morning hours of September 12. Lights from the worksite at Ground Zero illuminated the smoke still drifting over the city.

I spent four days in New York, photographing the pain, the devastation, but mostly the indomitable human spirit that was alive everywhere around the magnificent city.

The feeling there was much different than we had expected. People were shocked and dazed, but friendly and polite — nothing like the rude New Yorkers you hear about or see in the movies. They had wanted to talk about what happened to them and the country and what was still happening.

During our third night, after walking around for a couple of hours, trying hard not to be noticed, it began to rain. We eventually found shelter beneath an awning only a couple of blocks from ground zero. The three of us huddled together because it was very cold.

I remember just how miserable I was and then began thinking of the people who were still trapped inside the remains of the smoldering towers and how cold and wet and alone they must have felt. That was the moment that it really felt personal.

Going to New York to photograph the attacks isn’t something I’m proud of; it’s just something I did. I didn’t have to think about going. I had the opportunity to see something that I knew would forever change our country, and I went.


There was a lot of self-doubt covering such a large-scale event as a student, especially not knowing exactly how, if ever, the images would be used.

There was discussion before we even left about whether it was responsible to go and possibly add further strain to a chaotic situation, but a few other students and myself felt very strongly a need to document this tragic moment in history.

So, when one of us secured a place to stay in the city we drove all night and arrived on the morning of September 12.

I went into the situation thinking I was covering an event that had already happened, but the truth was that the story was still unfolding, with repercussions that would be felt for many years to come.

The gravity of the situation washed over me after seeing hundreds of faces on “missing” posters plastered across the city as many people had not yet officially been declared deceased.

Our first night we photographed people gathered at makeshift memorials in parks near Ground Zero, with some of us finally putting away our cameras to help each other deal with the overwhelming feeling of sorrow and tragedy.

The next day, when F-16 fighter jets screamed overhead at low altitude, the thought crossed my mind, will they attack again?


The morning of September 11, I woke up to an ABC Special Report as Peter Jennings reported that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center North Tower.

In class with journalism professor Mrs. Albers, we watched the World Trade Center South Tower get demolished by a highjacked plane.  I remembered the class was silent as everyone was in disbelief.

Two of my classmates and I made the decision an hour later to drive 12 hours to New York City to document the event.

As we stood close to Ground Zero, we witnessed chaos and bravery from the people of New York.  We documented the event as best as we could.  I remembered the drive home was depressing.  Throughout the night, I was terrified, and what-ifs kept repeating in my mind.

What if they target a small town such as Bowling Green or my hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan?  What’s going to happen next?  The unknowns were uneased.

I remember September 11 as if it was yesterday.  My mental wellness was affected, and thousands of Americans suffered.

What we witnessed on TV and in person was a nightmare that became a reality that day.

May the heroes of New York City be remembered.


I was working on a photo story when I saw live news coverage of the 9/11 attack. Going up to New York was the talk among us. Some went right away. Others like myself waited a few days, and then decided to go.

For me, my hesitation came from not wanting to get in the way. I wasn’t a working journalist with an outlet (so I thought) so I didn’t feel I had a reason to be there. I changed my mind after a couple of days and four of us drove up. I decided that it was too big of an event to not go.

I was a nontraditional student in my early thirties. Another person I went up with was also older. The others were young college kids, and all of us handled ourselves wonderfully in such a raw situation.

The New Yorkers were extremely receptive and welcoming as well. I can’t recall anyone turning away from a camera. Everyone was on the same page when it came to documenting this horrific event.

Over the years, and more recently, I have found my thoughts drifting to the image I made on that trip of a woman looking at the Jasper Johns American flag painting in the Museum of Modern Art days after the attack. I wonder what she was thinking then, and now. I wonder what many of us are thinking about our country.

As for New York right after the attack, one typically doesn’t get to experience humanity on this level in a lifetime.

It is hard to believe that, until the other day, we’ve been at war ever since that day 20 years ago. In that time, I’ve again changed careers. I’ve seen my classmates go on to have families, their children never knowing us not at war.

Going up to New York and covering the tragedy of 9/11 was something we needed to do. I believe we are better for it.


I was young, and while very independent, I hadn’t been to a big city on my own since I was a kid with my parents.

I am glad Jenny Sevcik and MJ Mahon decided to tag along in my car. Along the drive we heard from others that they had either turned around, or decided to drive to Washington, D.C., instead. We kept heading towards New York and finally arrived late in the evening on 9/11 and checked into a hotel in New Jersey.

When we entered New York City on September 12, we made our way into Tribeca, where we could see a parade of vehicles delivering water and supplies to the nearby rescue crews.

We kept walking south. The sun was shining and there was a lot of noise from people hollering at the rescue vehicles, and just in general there was a lot of commotion. As we turned into a quieter side street, I saw a firefighter sitting on a stoop, his uniform dirty and his hands over his face, crying. I just remember that so vividly because I was wondering what we were about to experience.

When I was there with my family as a kid, I do remember one thing very vividly: it was a big and impersonal city. People would pass each other by, not speaking to each other, ignoring each other, keeping to themselves.

On September 12, 2001, it was a completely different feeling. Small groups had formed on the streets and in the parks. Strangers were randomly interacting with each other sharing stories and information. It felt more like a small village rather than a big city.

This was even more noticeable in areas where people had posted “missing” posters with pictures of their loved ones. Seeing those is what really made it real for me. So many posters and so many loved ones missing. It was gut wrenching.

I am glad I had the opportunity to experience one of the biggest news events in history with my camera and my classmates, though I wish I never would have had the reason to go.

I was 27 and not yet that experienced in photojournalism, but it was a valuable lesson. It was not only a lesson in how to approach people who were in anguish but also how to deal with my own anguish and emotions after returning from it all.


Twenty years after 9/11, l remember the human spirit much more than I remember the destruction and chaos.

I recall watching vehicles roll in from all over the country, sedans strapped with wheelbarrows and shovels, covered in makeshift signs stating they’d traveled to New York City to help in any way possible.

It made me question if I was holding the right tool, but a camera is the tool of my trade, so I focused on finding images that showed less the tears and rubble and more how remarkable people can be in the wake of immense tragedy.


I’m not sure what I expected as we drove toward New York on the Thursday after September 11, 2001. As we got closer, we could see across the Hudson River. I saw the smoke still rising from Ground Zero. The tragedy became real with such sadness.

Twenty years later, I certainly remember that sadness as we documented those few days. But I mostly remember the resiliency of New Yorkers. They pulled together for the common good. The country did the same. I hope for that feeling of unity now.


When I think back this is what I remember:

  • Listening
  • Shock at the size of the hole in the earth.
  • Watching hope turn to despair and grief.
  • Not being able to focus my camera through tears, but still shooting. 
  • Feeling the importance of documenting the events of September 11, 2001, knowing that the future would be changed.


As my colleague, David Cooper, and former student, Amy Smotherman Burgess, and I drove into New York City in the wee hours of the Friday morning after 9/11, with smoke still rising from where the twin towers once stood on the city skyline, I remember thinking to myself, “This is not how I wanted to see New York City for the first time.”

I grew up in Los Angeles, but my father, who died when I was 17, grew up in New York. Perhaps because of this the city had always held a special, almost mystical place in my mind and heart. I had always dreamed of traveling to New York City to walk the streets that my father walked as a child. But instead, I was walking these same streets photographing destruction, disbelief, pain, tears, and the faint hope that those missing were still alive.

By the end of the weekend, hope had faded. The reality of what happened had fully set in.

I came in sadness and left in sadness. I brought home photographs and audio, stories that I hoped would make some sense of it all, or at least make some difference. Beyond my prayers, this was all I had to offer.


It’s my first time in New York City.

The buildings tower over the chaotic streets. An acrid haze diffuses the September sun and the endless lines of flashing emergency lights. Every road and sidewalk leading to Ground Zero is locked down. Every park has huddled masses. Many people are crying, wrapped by the consoling arms of strangers. Candles, teddy bears, flowers, and keepsakes are set up in impromptu memorials throughout the city. It appears every lamppost is hauntingly decorated with the faces of the missing – the phone numbers of their loved ones boldly printed, pleading for someone to call with good news.

It is quieter than I expected, as if we were all at a wake and being loud would be disrespectful. And so, it is with quiet and careful steps that we move about the city doing what we are trained to do.

We photograph what we see today so it is not forgotten tomorrow.




Call for submissions


Since early March, 2020, we have collectively witnessed an unprecedented time in history. From a worldwide pandemic, social and political movements that shook the world, to a political season like we have never witnessed before, the past year has given us no shortage of obstacles nor moments to document. 

The role of photojournalists have been more crucial than ever before. Many of us were among the first on the front lines documenting, capturing, experiencing the strifes with the rest of the world. 

The School of Media Gallery at Western Kentucky University will be re-opening to the public this fall and we are looking to our alumni to offer up still images and video stories to be considered for inclusion in our March to March exhibition.

And we need YOUR help. 

WKUPJ is now accepting submissions for any photo or video footage covering the months of March 2020 to March 2021. 

These images should consist of documentation surrounding the major themes of this past year: Covid-19, BLM Movement and the election.



Who can submit:

  • WKU School of Media current students or alumni. 


Submission requirements: 

  • File naming convention: LASTNAME_FIRSTNAME_01, LASTNAME_FIRSTNAME_02, ETC.
  • You may submit up to 10 photos 
  • Please size your files accordingly: 2000px on the longest side, 300dpi, JPG Medium
  • Captions are required in the description field
  • The work must be made between March 11, 2020 – March 11, 2021 (approximately)


The deadline to submit is Monday, June 14, 2021

If your image(s) are selected, we will reach back out to you for full resolution files and clarifications on caption information.

Please contact [email protected] with any questions.


Submit here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeHdtl1LWxSoAKee6wy5YFQNVLhk3wlArVwW-9Dd_UFWmyYXg/viewform 

Looking Inwards


As the global pandemic transitioned from novelty to reality, Western Kentucky University college students realized their lives would be altered forever

When students of the School of Media at Western Kentucky University beelined from their cramped dorm rooms and fluorescent lit classrooms in Jody Richards Hall to enjoy a week respite on March 6, 2020, they were blissfully ignorant of the storm that was about to shatter their perception of what college education would become, how their world would change and what their future may become.

The COVID-19 pandemic at first felt like this bump in the road that was merely an inconvenience but as WKU President Timothy Caboni, like other schools across the country and around the globe, announced classes were to move online for the rest of the semester, college life as it used to be quickly became a distant, hazy dream. Dimly lit basements or child-hood bedrooms became the new classroom as increasingly un-kept students clung to their red solo cups which were filled with a liquid of ambiguous content (at least to the professor) as they swayed to whatever heavy bass they could feel in their mind as they pretended to maintain attention in the new Zoom world. Instantly gone from their grasps the sensations of college life freedom.

View the complete project online at: http://lookinginwards.tilda.ws

Produced by Gabi Broekema

Content by Fatimah Alhamdin, Grace Bailey, Raaj Banga, Morgan Bass, Gabi Broekema, Alex Driehaus, Kennedy Gott, Morgan Hornsby, Missy Johnson, Cassady Lamb, Sam Mallon, Vonn Pillman, Rachel Taylor, Lily Estella Thompson

Photo and Journal entry by Sam Mallon

MARCH, 2020
I find myself exhausted though my quarantine days are filled with very little movement. I long for places to go and people to see; I am grieving the could-have, would-have, should-have-beens. I am grateful that I am safe and it is my responsibility to keep others safe, so I have been staying inside and learning to spend time with myself. I have found solace in the fact that the trees are turning green — they remind me that we are all still growing —I am eager to see how much stronger we are on the other side of the current pandemic.

Video and Journal by Lily Estella Thompson

SUMMER, 2020
“Upon reflection of our relationship throughout the pandemic, Brandon and I try to make sense about what went wrong, and what went right during this time of isolation. In a video and thru images I took, we are both made to talk about what it has been like living together through one of the most historic times in our lives.”


Photo and Journal by Morgan Bass
MAY, 2020
I used to be an extrovert, someone who would strike up conversations with strangers for fun. After half a year in social isolation, the mere thought of putting myself out there like that is suffocating. Since March of 2020, I have been on a downward spiral into a pit of panic attacks and depressive episodes. I have been trying to act like the person I was before, but there is a piece that is now missing from that person that I used to be, and I am not sure how to pretend that it isn’t.


Photo of her family by Rachel Taylor
APRIL, 2020
“The first thing I’m doing when quarantine is over is going to church,” Catherine Taylor said on Sunday. Much like her husband, she has missed very few Sundays and longs to be back in the church building she grew up in, rather than praying virtually on her front porch. “I know that church isn’t just a building, but I can’t wait to be worshiping with my church family again.” she added.