The future of our business

WKU PJ students listen in on the Career Day roundtable discussion during the 16th annual event sponsored by the WKU Photojournalism program in the School of Media at WKU.

On Friday, February 21, 2020 we hosted our 16th annual WKU PJ Career Day. Thirteen professionals from the region come in for the day to interview our Photojournalism program students for potential jobs and internships, but mostly to give many of the students an opportunity for “first contact” with the photojournalism profession and an opportunity to allow the students to exercise their interview skills.

As evident from this list, our alumni support is strong:

Albert Cesare – Cincinnati Enquirer (WKUPJ graduate)
Gary Hairlson  – St. Louis Post-Dispatch (WKUPJ graduate)
Joe Howell – Vanderbilt University (WKUPJ graduate)
Mark Humphrey – Associated Press, Tennessee
Brett Marshall – Kertis Creative, Louisville (WKUPJ graduate)
Patrick Murphy-Racey – Freelance, Knoxville
Marcia Prouse – The Tennessean, Nashville
Sawyer Roque – Kertis Creative, Louisville (WKUPJ graduate)
Steven Rosenberg – Chicago Tribune
John Russell – Vanderbilt University (WKUPJ graduate)
Sam Upshaw – The Courier-Journal, Louisville (WKUPJ graduate)
Mark Weber – Daily Memphian, Memphis (WKUPJ graduate)
Bryan Woolston – Freelance for AP, Reuters, and Getty, based in Louisville

Marcia Prouse, Director of Photography at The Tennessean in Nashville, listens as Lily Thompson, a WKUPJ junior, talks about her portfolio work.

Emily Moses, a WKUPJ senior, has her portfolio reviewed by Associated Press photographer Mark Humphrey.

WKU graduates Albert Cesare from the Cincinnati Enquirer (L), Sam Upshaw, Jr. from the Courier-Journal and freelance photographer and SONY camera ambassador Patrick Murphy-Racey talk with WKUPJ students during the roundtable discussion.

After a morning of interviews, we broke for lunch, then we conducted a roundtable discussion, where the professionals gave the students advice about how to prepare for a career in photojournalism while still in school, how to obtain employment, and tips on how to succeed in the profession once they enter it. We then resumed with interviews throughout the afternoon.

James Kenney started organizing this event 16 years ago because he said he heard too many  students say they were hesitant about reaching out to the profession because they didn’t feel like they were ready to do so. As a faculty and staff in the photojournalism program we feel the the sooner they make contact the better, and therefore the more directed (and committed) they will be toward their goals while navigating their way through the photojournalism program. The added bonus is that many of our students have directly benefited from Career Day, with many of them obtaining internships as a direct result of meeting with the professionals during this event. One professional who has attended the past two years, Sawyer Roque, was hired as an intern at Kertis Creative (a multimedia firm based in Louisville, Kentucky) as a result of an interview with the company during Career Day. After her internship was over, they hired her on full time, and now she is attending as a professional to mentor a new generation of future visual storytellers – full circle! Kertis currently has six of our Photojournalism program graduates working for the company, and many others from our program have interned and worked there over the years.

Sawyer Roque, a WKUPJ graduate, came to Career Day representing Kertis Creative to complete the full circle of student, intern, professional and now mentoring current students, like Grace Pritchett, a WKUPJ senior.

Projects from our students

Srijita Chattopadhyay

During her internship, WKUPJ student Srijita Chattopadhyay followed a Rohingya refugee family as they observed 40-days of mourning after the accidental death of their son.

The original story can be seen in the  San Antonio Express-News

Sitting on the floor of her affordable housing in San Antonio, Zahidah Begum Binti Ali Miah raises her hands in prayer. To Allah she requests, “take care of my son,” and then slowly exhales, “help me find peace.”
August 12, 2017, marked the end of a 40-day mourning period for Mohamad Sharib’s family. Ordinarily, Islam calls for three days of mourning. But, for the family, a 40-day observance is a cultural variation in their Muslim faith.


On July 7, 2017, Zahidah requested to see her son one more time after the customary ritual of gusal (bathing and cleaning of the deceased) to say her last goodbye. “My son. My good son,” Zahidah kept chanting, as her younger son, Mohamad Emran, along with relatives, escorted her out of the morgue.


Laying her head on her husband’s lap, Zahidah takes a moment to look over at her grandson to make sure he is asleep. As days pass by and Mohamad Sharib becomes a memory, Zahidah feels his absence in the family. “Sharib would always take care of me,” she said with tears in her eyes. “He would cook food, make tea, give me medicines on time and massage my shoulders when I would feel pain. Now I have no one.”

Zahidah endures the pain of the loss by herself. She feels that her husband does not understand her. “He tells me to get over it and live for my other son and my grandchildren,” she said. “But how can I do that?”



Gabriel Scarlett

While interning for The Denver Post in the summer of 2017, WKUPJ student Gabriel Scarlett began traveling to Pueblo, Colorado, a rust belt town known for its gang culture. His ongoing essay focuses on the community’s resilience.

A full essay can be viewed on his website

Julian Rodriguez plays with his son Christopher at their home on Pueblo’s East Side. Julian’s decades-long struggle with addiction brought him intimately close to the gang operations as he often bought from and sold for the gangs in order to support his own addiction. With his son, Christopher on the way, he reached sobriety and had his facial skeleton tattooed to remember his commitment to his son and to commemorate his brother “Bone Head” who was killed in a shootout with the police. “Everything that I desire and want in this life is for that boy.” Christopher will grow up on the East Side, in Duke territory, but Julian hopes that a loving relationship with his father can keep him from that lifestyle.


Felix Rubio praises at New Hope Ministries, a front lines church in Pueblo that openly accepts addicts, alcoholics, gang members, and anyone else seeking God. As a gang member in Denver, Felix recalls his life as a warrior, a “beast,” owning machine guns and moving kilos of product from his apartment. His drug use kept him up for days and even weeks at a time, until he checked himself into a faith-based rehabilitation program. When people look at him now, Felix wants them to see “Jesus, bro. Jesus. When I was in the hood, I wanted them to see me. When they see me now, I want them to see Jesus’ likeness.”


On a scorching summer day, Catholic parishioners of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart pass the Pueblo Sheriff’s Department building during a procession to celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, which honors the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist.

Beyond Superstitions

Handicapped members of some ethnic groups in Tanzanian ethnic groups face undue societal stigma due to lingering superstitions.

These prejudices, mixed with living conditions that are rarely handicap accessible, create challenges for this population that are unimaginable in the developed world.

Against those odds, the Faraja School for the handicapped in Sanya Juu, Tanzania is striving to change these attitudes and perceptions and has become one the leading academic schools in its district even when compared to those for able-bodied students.