When Tobey Schmidt won the Drew Gyorke photojournalism award, she used the $200 to help pay for a new full-frame DSRL camera. Two years later, she hopes to make photojournalism a career.
She is just one of many recipients who said the contest, held every semester in Professor Kim Newton’s JOUR 203 class, gave them confidence in their photography skills.
“The award inspired me to take photography seriously, buy a really nice camera, build a website for myself and start selling my work,” Schmidt said. “I hope to pursue a career in photojournalism after I graduate.”
Schmidt, whose photo of a climber at Mount Lemmon is above, is putting her skills to use as an intern this summer at Alaska’s award-winning community paper, The Skagway News.
Drew Gyorke (bottom right), an adventurer and aspiring photojournalist at UA, died his junior year in a May 2013 car accident. The award, endowed by his family and friends in fall 2013, recognizes the best beginning photojournalism students.
The top three images each semester — along with photos from the nine other finalists — hang in the School of Journalism hallway near Newton’s office (Marshall 327). The winner is awarded $200, followed by second place ($100) and third ($75).
The school recently asked past winners of the award how they were affected by the contest, and their replies were forwarded to the Gyorke family.
Sara Gyorke, Drew’s mother, called the students’ response “really touching on many levels, a real tear-jerker — so awesome.” She and her husband, Andy, are “very happy we set up this award knowing how much Drew enjoyed photography.”
“Having something to strive for, especially the recognition from your peers, is so important for young students and a wonderful way to build confidence and have them feel accomplished,” Sara Gyorke said.
“Drew was a very giving person and enjoyed being there for people by listening to their stories. He respected and accepted others’ differences. He also loved skiing, being outdoors and sports which were strong motivations for him to be a photojournalist.”
• Read more student testimonials on Gyorke award.
• See a list of past winners and their photos.
Top photo: Climber at Hitchcock Pinnacle, by Tobey Schmidt (fall 2015). Bottom, from left: High school football, by Ashley Summerset (fall '14); folklorico dancer, by Pablo Lopez (spring '16); Drew Gyorke.
• More cool stuff in UANews: "UA profs take teaching into the field."