A mother’s determination to make a change for herself and family
By Kathryn Ziesig
Work hard, go to college, get a good job, meet your mate, settle down, have kids, and retire comfortably. The American dream, an idealized version of how one’s life is supposed to playout.
As defined by Merriam-Webster, “a happy way of living that is thought of by many Americans as something that can be achieved by anyone in the U.S. especially by working hard and becoming successful.” It is a goal people have been chasing for decades, but what happens when someone’s life doesn’t quite match up to the perfect outline?
She had the life others could only dream of, a career as a musician in the music city – Nashville, Tennessee. She was talented, and she was beautiful. There was nothing that could stop her rise to stardom. Although, at the end of the day in the solitude of her dressing room she would weep because she was born a ‘she.’
Deafening silence and agonizing pain were constant companions to Brandon Spaulding.
Living life was a chore.
The sudden embrace of suicide looked beautiful, many a time.
But, there was more to life after all.
Laura Webb waves goodbye to her foster son Dawson as he goes to school. Unknown to Dawson, his mother and father would soon leave for a court appointment regarding the adoption of him and his brother. After three years of foster care, the court system changed the goal of the boys’ case to adoption and decided to begin the process of terminating parental rights.|Morgan Hornsby
WKU tight end Mik’Quan Deane (85) catches a pass for a touch down at the WKU Homecoming football game on Saturday October 14, 2017 at LT Smith Stadium. WKU won 45 to 14.|Silas Walker
A fight breaks out between patrons and is quickly pushed out into the parking lot during Yo Gotti’s performance at a concert on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at the Sloan Convention Center. |Silas Walker
Saxton lights one of many kerosene lamps for light in his home as the sun sets. | Kelsea Hobbs
Dawson waits for the bus while his foster mother Laura Webb dries her hair in preparation for their upcoming court appointment. Unknown to Dawson, his mother and father would soon leave for court to receive a hearing on the status of the adoption of him and his brother. After three years of foster care, the court system changed the goal of the boys’ case to adoption and decided to begin the process of terminating parental rights.|Morgan Hornsby
Paige Henderson dances with her friend Melody Dickerson in Henderson’s dorm room. The two are both on the Major Redz majorette-style dance team. Since meeting at tryouts, they spend most days practicing routines or creating new choreography homework for the Major Redz. “Most days, we dance, Henderson said. Everywhere, sometimes in the Chick-Fil-A line.” | Morgan Hornsby
Wide Receiver Cameron Echols-Luper #23 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers gives high fives to young fans after his game against Charlotte at L.T. Smith Stadium on October 14, 2017 in Bowling Green, Kentucky.|Shaban Athuman
Quarterback Brooks Barden #12 of the Charlotte 49ers is tacked by Defensive Back Drell Greene #9 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at L.T. Smith Stadium on October 14, 2017 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. |Shaban Athuman
A member of the WKU Athletic staff holds a smoke canister before as the Hilltoppers are introduced on the field to play against Charlotte at L.T. Smith Stadium on October 14, 2017 in Bowling Green, Kentucky. |Shaban Athuman
Frank Phelps outside his mechanic shop in Bowling Green, Ky. Phelps and Son was once run by himself and his father, Andrew, but he has since taken over, often working 12-hour days. | Gabe Scarlett
Ibtisam at the International Center of Kentucky in Bowling Green in April 2017. She is a refugee from Somali, and her family is preparing to move to Ohio on the weekend. The International Center helps hundreds of refugees to resettle and transition to life in America. With one of his first executive orders, Donald Trump cut refugee intake from 110,000 to 50,000. The International Center and many of its programs now face cuts.|Gabriel Scarlett.
Nature meets industry outside of Detroit, MI in March 2017. For decades the Environment Protection Agency has regulated this delicate dance between the two. Under the Trump administration, the EPA’s budget is set to be cut by nearly 30 percent–$2.6 billion–in an attempt at boosting the manufacturing and energy sectors.|Gabriel Scarlett.
Michelle Calnan, 52 of Knoxville, Tennessee sits in her bed after getting little sleep the night before due to symptoms of Benzo withdrawal. “I don’t want to be in this body. I’m tired of seeing the same trees out of the same window feeling the same way,” said Calnan while she wept in her bed. Calnan was prescribed Klonopin ,an anti-anxiety drug for over 20 years that is designed to be used for a maximum of four weeks. She is currently attempting to taper off the medication which is a lengthy process taking anywhere from three to six years.|Michael Noble Jr.
Rosalino Santiago Garcia and his wife, Sabina Garcia Pacheco, wait to have a lasso placed on their shoulders by their sponsors during the couple’s wedding ceremony in Santa Ana, Oaxaca, Mexico on March 25, 2017. The lasso is a staple of Hispanic weddings and symbolizes the couple’s everlasting union. The two were officially married five years prior in a civil union, but it wasn’t until March that they could afford to throw a proper celebration after they saved enough of the money that Rosalino earned as a migrant worker in the tobacco fields of Kentucky.|Nick Wagner
Siena Heights University Asia Gardner sprints to the finish line as she anchors in the second heat of the 4×100 meter race during the Hilltopper Relays on Saturday April 8, 2017 at Charles M Reuters Track and Field Complex.|Shaban Athuman
Indiana Tech’s Jordan Partee falls into the sand pit after jumping 6.64 meters during the Hilltopper Relays on Saturday April 8, 2017 at Charles M Reuters Track and Field Complex. Partee would finish in 8th overall with a 6.74 meters.|Shaban Athuman
**This past Tuesday, WKU students skyped with members of RIT’s NPPA student chapter and exchanged photos for a joint critique session. WKU students discussed and selected the best photos from RIT. They did the same with us. Check out what RIT selected as their top photos from this past week! A big thanks to RIT for making the collaboration happen!
Rafey Wahlah of Lahore Bunjab, Pakistan has been in the United States for four years. Wahlah is currently the President of the Pakistani Student Association at Western Kentucky. This association was founded three years ago by students of this nationality. Wahlah stated, “When I first came here there were only four Pakistani students, a year later there were about 30; as I graduate this year, I fear we won’t have many Pakistani students attending this University to continue the PSA organization.”|Ebony Cox
Mariam Athuman, 5, is bathed in the afternoon light at her home in Roanoke, Virginia. Her family moved to the United States from a refugee camp in Tanzania in 2008. She is now a citizen.|Shaban Athuman
Much hangs in the balance for Rafey Wahlah, a senior at Western Kentucky University. Wahlah, the current president of the Pakistani Student Association at WKU, will graduate this spring with a degree in Political Science and hopes to return home to Lahore, Pakistan where his family resides but has also begun to seek out work in the United States while he is still eligible under the OTP student visa work program that allows foreign college students enrolled in US schools to begin their careers in the US for a short time in hopes of being selected for an H1-B visa, the first step in the green card process.|Alyse Young
How the Navajo still suffer from a country’s flirtation with nuclear war.
WKUPJ student Gabriel Scarlett examines the effects from decades of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation’s health, water and environment. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Nearly four million tons of uranium ore were extracted from 1944 to 1986; left behind were more than 500 abandoned uranium mines, four inactive uranium milling sites, a former dump site, and the widespread contamination of land and water. Only recently has the government attempted to assess and mitigate this contamination, but full reclamation of the land is unlikely.”
Begay with two of her sons, Lewis and Leonard, who died of cancers at 25 and 42, respectively. She counts at least a dozen of her close relatives who she believes died of exposure in or around the mines.
“Do you want me to show you where I dreamt of the water running?” Desaire Gaddy muses. “All through here, just blue water and dolphins.”
Love may be the only experience we all share. It makes us human. It’s part of our story. Love brings us to the extreme ends of the spectrum of human emotion, from feelings of overwhelming joy to unparalleled heartbreak. But what does real love look like?
The Way We Love is a documentary and multimedia package by WKUPJ Senior Lauren Nolan, exploring how we love in the modern world.