WKUPJ Career Day turns 15-years-old this spring

WKU student, Abigail Dollins, meets with Tennessean photo editor Marcia Prouse as fellow students and portfolio reviewers go about their business at Career Day.

Career Networking, 101

Fifteen years ago, WKU Photojournalism program coordinator, James Kenney, was concerned that many of the students in the program had never applied for an internship or even interacted with a photojournalism professional. As a result, he invited a handful of photographers and editors from area publications to WKU’s campus so that students would have an opportunity to show their work and practice their interviewing skills. What started as a one-time event has evolved into an annual spring-semester program tradition.

Kenney said that he expected that this experience would be beneficial to the students, but he did not anticipate the value it would bring to the professionals.

“The opportunity to meet face to face during WKU’s PJ Career Day is extremely valuable to not only the student but also the professional,” said Mykal McEldowney, who is the Visuals Manager at the Indianapolis Star. “It’s exciting to see students’ current work but to also see their growth year-over-year. It’s not simply a career day, it’s a job/internship interview.”

The day of the event, McEldowney takes off from Indianapolis in the wee hours of the morning in order to make it to the 9 a.m. start time. He joins his colleagues – who number from eight to 17 in any given year – in Room 127 in the PJ lab to get ready for a line of well-dressed students waiting for an opportunity to meet with them. Students are encouraged to interact with as many of the professionals as they can to receive feedback about their portfolio and advice concerning their future. After lunch, there is a roundtable discussion with all of the professionals and students, where questions are answered and more general advice is given about what it takes to be a successful photojournalist. After the roundtable, one-on-one meetings continue until late in the afternoon.

Though the Career Day experience alone is a valuable step in the students’ future careers, the experience can also result in an actual job. This was the case for WKU senior, Ebony Cox, who has faithfully attended the event since she started in the program. “Career Day has been instrumental in my growth as a photojournalism student here at Western,” she said. “Being able to network with staff photographers and editors can open many doors to some amazing opportunities. I highly recommend going all four years too. You are able to create a bond with these professionals and they are able to watch you grow year after year in your shooting. I became the Indianapolis Star’s 2017 summer Pulliam Fellowship recipient thanks to Career Day!”

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.

WKUPJ KNPA Winners 2019

WKUPJ Students win big at the 2019 Kentucky News Photographer’s Association competition.

Student Photographer of the Year: Gabriel Scarlet

After 19 days of imprisonment and 12 hours of transportation between facilities, Jose Luis Garcia is released to his family and friends. As one last added insult, ICE agents drove Jose around for hours to avoid the media seeing his release. After changing the release location twice, he was dropped on a street corner alone.

Sports Student Photographer of the Year: Silas Walker

Harlem Globetrotter’s guard “Flip” (19) swings off the hoop after climbing on it to block the Washington General’s shots during their performance on at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, KY on Monday, Mar. 12, 2018.

Student Feature Picture Story:
1st: Grace Pritchett
3rd: Silas Walker
HM: Gabriel Scarlett

McFadden waits for daughter Amity to fall asleep after a long day. ÒFrom the outside I’m probably perceived as an adult who has her stuff together. I do not. I’m just making it up as I go along. I still feel like a child,” said McFadden.

Student Multimedia (Unlimited): Honorable Mention, Gabriel Scarlett
Student Sport Picture Story: 1st place, Silas Walker

Student News Picture Story:
1st: Gabriel Scarlett
2nd: Gabriel Scarlett
3rd: Silas Walker

More than a week after the arrest of her father Jose (who is a green card holder), Natalie Garcia tries to console her daughter Marley outside their home in Arleta, California from which Jose was taken.

Student Pictorial: 1st place, Silas Walker

Severe thunderstorms roll through Scott County causing damage in and around Lexington, KY on Friday July 20, 2018.

Student Portrait/Personality:
1st: Gabriel Scarlett
2nd: Grace Pritchett

Student Sports Feature: 3rd place, Grace Pritchett

Student Sports Action: 1st place, Silas Walker

Students Feature Picture:
1st: Gabriel Scarlett
2nd: Gabriel Scarlett
3rd: Gabriel Scarlett

Jennifer and Cameron share ice cubes and a few kisses on a hot evening in Tevistion, California. Both their parents emigrated from Oklahoma with the rest of the “Black Okies” in mid-twentieth century to work the fields of the Central Valley. Jennifer moved to the cities briefly but has been forced to return to her family’s crumbling home to raise her two children.

Student General News: 3rd place, Gabriel Scarlett

Student Spot News:
1st: Gabriel Scarlett
3rd: Silas Walker
HM: Gabriel Scarlett

Pueblo police clear abandoned houses in Bessemer on the city’s South Side that are suspected of being used for prostitution and drug use. Officers describe a difficult and delicate balance that must be walked between proactive community policing and the ability to flip a switch when called upon in violent situations. Nearly half of the police force has participated in officer-involved shootings.

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

Defying All Odds

Defying All Odds

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?

The complete story can be viewed here

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.