I specialise in multimedia projects focused on human rights and social issues.
While I learned to use my camera in school while earning a Bachelor of Science in photojournalism at Ohio University and a Master’s in Science in multimedia photography from Syracuse University, it wasn’t until my first job at the Watertown Daily Times, a small daily in upstate New York, and subsequently at The Palm Beach Post that I truly learned the power of the photograph. Workplace mentors like Norm Johnston and Mark Edelson guided the development of my photographic vision and taught me what it truly meant to be a journalist.
I think I have always been a storyteller in some form. At an early age I began writing stories and documenting my life. Years later, I became the co-editor of my high school yearbook. While on a college tour at Ohio University, I was struck by an exhibit of Martha Rial’s Pulitzer Prize-winning portraits of survivors of the conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi. It was at that moment that I knew photojournalism was my path.
My first assignment was to cover an ice cream social in Farmington, New Mexico, while working as a photo intern at The Farmington Daily Times. I had been given the opportunity during a college summer break and it was as exciting as it was nerve-racking. Dailies were still shot on film at the time and I only had a short window to cover the event before I had to sprint back to the newsroom to process the negatives in the darkroom, scan and tone them in time to meet the evening deadline. I barely made it.
A few years ago, I covered active conflict for the first time working as a multimedia producer in South Sudan. This experience changed me, both as a person and as a journalist. During my coverage, I met Nyawar, a 70-year-old internally displaced refugee, who had been victimized hours before by a soldier she said was young enough to be her grandson. She fought through the physical and emotional pain, compelled to share her story of this being the third time she had been subjected to conflict-related sexual violence. That day and today, I am humbled by her courage. It’s a reason I will never stop working to give voice to others.
Human rights and displacement are subjects I am deeply passionate about. One often perpetuates the other. The world is currently suffering the highest levels of displacement on record with tens of millions forcibly removed from their homes, a quarter of a million of whom are refugees. Even after wars end, the economic, environmental and social consequences will continue to have a lasting impact on the global population.
My parents never set limitations on what they believed my siblings and I could accomplish. My mother is a fearless woman and as the second woman to ever graduate in architecture from Ohio University, a trailblazer in her own right. It was through their actions that we learned true compassion, respect for all, resilience and determination.