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A Path Set by a Playground

May 10, 2018

A few nights ago, I spent some late hours on campus with my camera in one hand and a tripod in the other. As I explored campus for the last time as a student, I did not photograph the more popular spots on campus, such as the Century Tree or the Architecture Quad, but instead the small and often overlooked details I believe make campus unique. As I walked past all the classrooms I sat in for hours on end to earn my degree, they all seemed minuscule compared to that one classroom in the basement of the MSC. The Battalion office became my favorite, and undoubtedly the most fulfilling, classroom on campus, and along the way I found the campus which surrounds it to be my photography playground.

It was September of 2015 when I first walked into that classroom in the basement of the MSC to be greeted by then managing editor Lindsey Gawlik and editor-in-chief Aimee Breaux. I asked them if they would allow someone with no journalism experience whatsoever and mild photography experience to become a photojournalist for The Battalion. The overwhelming welcome I received from them and others at the paper made me realize I had just become part of something important.

I worked countless hours inside that classroom and played as much as I could on the playground. I fell in love with the work, because I found using my camera to benefit something greater than myself and learning about photojournalism along the way was unbelievably fulfilling. Picking up a paper in the mornings on my way to class became my ritual. The sight of my byline was worth more than the money I was paid, because being able to see my work contributing towards something important was (and will always be) an incredible feeling.

Over the past three years, you have most likely seen a few of my photographs from the nearly 100 Aggie sporting events I covered. Significant moments on this playground I covered include the 2016 men’s basketball team winning the SEC Championship, the 2016 women’s basketball postseason tournament, Myles Garrett’s performance at Texas A&M’s Pro Day, the 2018 women’s swimming and diving team winning a third-straight SEC championship and the arrival of new head football coach Jimbo Fisher. Sometimes my Aggie playground extended beyond campus, including two separate trips to southern California. The first was to cover the 2016 men’s basketball team in the Sweet Sixteen against Buddy Hield and the Oklahoma Sooners, and the other to cover the 2017 football season opener against the UCLA Bruins at the historic Rose Bowl. I know visually documenting these events and others over my three years at The Battalion has made my work part of the history of not only The Battalion, but also A&M, which is empowering knowledge.

Sports photography has become my muse, one I would not have discovered so clearly if it was not for The Battalion. It has pushed my creativity to new heights I did not know I was capable of. I owe a lot to this important student-led paper, and one day I hope to pay back that debt, but for now I can give this; As I move on, I know the classroom I found in the basement of the MSC and the surrounding playground has placed me on a trajectory I will follow for the rest of my career, towards new classrooms and new playgrounds.

Thanks & Gig 'Em.

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