The Pain We Cause

The Pain We Cause:

The entanglement of addiction and incarceration in Kentucky, told in two parts.

By Morgan Hornsby and Gabriel Scarlett

Upon her release from jail for drug-related offenses, Amy McKeown struggles to adjust to life at a home with a family she has alienated during decades of addiction.
At the Warren County Jail, volunteers and staffers try to prepare inmates for reentry into society, but the challenges of life on the outside still prove daunting for most.


Once a month, the Warren County Jail allows local churches to come to the facility to hold a baptism service for inmates who wish to participate. Part of Miles’ job is to coordinate with local groups, like churches, recovery groups, local businesses, and a community college

WKUPJ Senior Skyler Ballard tells a story of immigration

En Muerto En Vida


In the thirteen years that Jorge and Christina Zaldivar have been married, the family has been fighting for Jorge’s legal residency in the U.S. With a changing administration and an increasing focus on ICE and immigration policies, the family fears that Jorge’s time in the U.S. will soon be up.

Ballard began documenting the family during her summer internship at The Denver Post. See the entire story here.


Gabriel Scarlett interviewed by Alexia Foundation on his “Flock of Doves” Project.

WKUPJ student Gabriel Scarlett was interviewed by the Alexia Foundation about his project, Flock of Doves, which explores “the intersection of gang violence and a community of voices demanding change in Pueblo, Colorado.” Scarlett, a senior in the photojournalism program, elaborated on how the project came to be, his goals for the project, and his future endeavors in the world of photojournalism. You can read Scarlett’s full interview here

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 achieved 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. | Gabriel Scarlett

Michelle Hanks chosen to attend Danish School of Media and Journalism

Michelle Hanks has been chosen to attend the Danish School of Media and Journalism this spring as part of an exchange program used to give students a chance of engaging in visual storytelling internationally.  The program, now in its 5th year, as brought students from Denmark to attend classes at WKU and in return has sent several of our students to Denmark for a semester.

Hanks, from Chattanooga, TN, is in her Junior year as a Photojournalism major.

This Fall Hanks documented Natasha a young mother battling with recovery with the hope of getting custody of her 4-month old baby. Her child was taken away from her four days after birth, because of her addiction to drugs.

Through Our Eyes Week 2

Below are some of our favorite photos from this week’s Through Our Eyes. Each week the selections are chosen by WKUPJ students. Stay tuned for more to come!

First Place

Rango, 33, squeezes back into the Mexico side of the border in La Playa in Tijuana, Baja California. Rango, who recently was living in the United States illegally was deported to Mexico after living most of his life in Sacramento. He demonstrated to a group of friends how easy someone can squeeze through the border fence. After people recorded videos of him on the San Diego side, he struggled to get back onto the Mexico side of the border. The day before, a Tijuana resident who was also deported commented “I may cross the border just one more time. When I was first deported they took my tablet, phone, wallet, clothes, nikes, X-Box, everything I own. I just want to see the beach again on the other side. I just want to see my family living in the United States. Making an affordable income and living life without having to be as cautious,” another deported citizen said.| Michael Blackshire

Through Our Eyes Week 1

Below are some of our favorite photos from this week’s Through Our Eyes. Each week the selections are chosen by WKUPJ students. Stay tuned for more to come!

First Place

Saran Thompson got vitiligo when he was 23-years-old, he’s now 28. Thompson is a hip-hop and spoken word artist who uses his platform to provide representation for young kids who might be dealing with vitiligo as well. “The key is to be unapologetically you. When you are comfortable in your skin the thoughts of people will change. What stays consistent is what you think of yourself,” he said. | Ebony Cox

Runner Up

Austin Minton, 22, is an engineering student at Vermont Thread Gage and is dressed up as Jason Vorhees part 6 version at the Vette City Con in Bowling Green, Ky., At the National Corvette Museum on Sat. Jan 26, 2019. Minton has a background of being bullied as a kid and chose his favorite slasher villian. “Jason taught me to not let the bullies get to you,” said Minton. “Be yourself and don’t try to be like everyone. Be who you are.” This is Minton’s second year at the Vette City Con and comes to these events to show support to other creators and his passion for it. | Tyger Williams

Honorable Mentions

James Muchina was our driver for the trip. We blistered up and down the red dirt roads for 18 days so many of us developed an attachment to James and our van. To the kids, James and his van meant the Americans were coming to the village. This is an artists rendition of our van titled, “America Car.” | Reed Mattison

Embody – by Srijita Chattopadhyay

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.’

Spirit Bomb – by Ida Marie Odgaard

In a world where wheelchairs seem to go as fast as “Sonic” and basketballs that can turn into “Dragonball Z spirit bombs,” 15-year old David Moore from Bowling Green, Kentucky might not see the world exactly as the other teenage boys in the neighborhood but he’s got his own hopes and dreams for the future – and is not letting autism stop him on his way.


Through Our Eyes Week 12

Below are some of our favorite photos from this week’s Through Our Eyes. Each week the selections are chosen by WKUPJ students. Stay tuned for more to come!

First Place

Miles Hoskins, a lifelong resident of Mt. Sterling, KY., runs the Montgomery County Historical Society. Hoskins works to find, preserve, and share a wealth of historical resources regarding Montgomery County. | Nic Huey

Runner Up

Tyron shows his cousins Demarcus and Duke how to do a wheelie on a bike in Kentwood, Louisiana. “Man, I know y’all cant do a wheelie like me,” Tyron said. | Michael Blackshire

Honorable Mentions

Joseph A. Madrid, 11, of Henderson marches in remembrance of his uncle and namesake, Joseph R. Madrid who was lost to suicide in May of 2018. Madrid and his grandmother, Cathy Roy, carried 22 posters with the names of children lost to suicide. Roy is part of a Facebook group for grieving mothers who have lost children to suicide, and she wanted to honor as many lost children as she could said Roy. Bowling Green, Kentucky 2018. | Reed Mattison

Through Our Eyes Week 8

Below are some of our favorite photos from this week’s Through Our Eyes. Each week the selections are chosen by WKUPJ students. Stay tuned for more to come!

First Place

Red Jackson, sits on top of his ’72 Monte Carlo outside of his house in Alligator, Mississippi. Alligator, Mississippi has a population of 208 from a 2010 Consensus, and is part of the area considered the Mississippi Delta. “This is what I know. My people from here and it’s always been good with folk. Just life in the Delta is what I know,” Jackson said. | Michael Blackshire

Runner Up

A young activist was among the many who filled Downtown Chicago Saturday October 13. March to the Polls protest organized and marched as a call for voter registration and participation. | Brenna Pepke

Honorable Mentions

Larry Williams, holds his young nephew as family comes over to visit. Growing up, him and the rest of their family lived willingly on a plantation were his father worked for a man near the area they still call home now in Duncan Mississippi. “My dad told me tells, you see those tree’s over there, my dad say man hung from those tree’s. We own this land over here. From this block to the other end. Everyone knows the Coffey family. The population is small, there are no police around, but we protect our own, Coffey said.| Michael Blackshire

Dexter Wilson (Front Right), Jamarion Cockran (Back Right), and Aavion Keller (Middle) look out on a street in Baton Rouge as sun falls. “I want a good picture of me and my dog,” Wilson said, knowing him and his friends would have to go back inside the house soon. | Michael Blackshire

Teodoro Acosta, 52, is originally from Durango City, Mexico, but now is starting a new life in Texas. He was visiting near Austin in Georgetown, TX but is enjoying his life away from home. | Michael Blackshire