Smith: Black, female, with a lens on life

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Smith: Black, female, with a lens on life

From left: Daily Iowan photo editor Lily Smith and Ashol Aguek photograph Iowa catcher Tyler Cropley at Baseball Media Day on February 8, 2018. (Ashley Morris/The Daily Iowan)

From left: Daily Iowan photo editor Lily Smith and Ashol Aguek photograph Iowa catcher Tyler Cropley at Baseball Media Day on February 8, 2018. (Ashley Morris/The Daily Iowan)

Ashley Morris

From left: Daily Iowan photo editor Lily Smith and Ashol Aguek photograph Iowa catcher Tyler Cropley at Baseball Media Day on February 8, 2018. (Ashley Morris/The Daily Iowan)

Ashley Morris

Ashley Morris

From left: Daily Iowan photo editor Lily Smith and Ashol Aguek photograph Iowa catcher Tyler Cropley at Baseball Media Day on February 8, 2018. (Ashley Morris/The Daily Iowan)

Lily Smith, Lily-Smit[email protected]

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Throughout the almost two years I have been a student at the University of Iowa, I’ve become accustomed to learning in spaces that don’t contain people who look like me. In my year and a half of working as a photojournalist at The Daily Iowan, I’ve become used to working in spaces that don’t have people who look like me. No one sold Iowa City to me by saying it was diverse.

The DI has given me the chance to grow in countless journalistic situations. As photo editor, I’ve had many interesting work opportunities. Last winter, I was the primary photographer for the 2018 women’s basketball season, and my determination in improving my ability to cover this beat, coupled with my role as photo editor, culminated in my getting chosen to cover Iowa’s run in both the Big Ten and NCAA first-round tourneys in March, in Indianapolis and Los Angeles, respectively.

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Iowa players warm up before the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Herky the Hawk gestures during a Northwestern introduction during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Makenzie Meyer high fives a teammate during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle prepares for her introduction during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Northwestern guard Jordan Hamilton loses control of the ball during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
The Minnesota women's basketball team enters during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Hannah Stewart attempts to hold on to the ball during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
The Iowa Pep Band plays during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa guard Tania Davis claps during a timeout during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Amanda Ollinger and Northwestern forward Pallas Kunaiya-Akpanah fight for the ball during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson and Northwestern forward Pallas Kunaiya-Akpanah attempt to take control of the ball during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson attempts a shot during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa guard Makenzie Meyer fights for the ball from Northwestern players during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa guard Tania Davis gestures during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Northwestern forward Pallas Kunaiya-Akpanah attempts to pass the ball during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson reacts during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Northwestern head coach Joe McKeown gestures during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle dribbles the ball during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Northwestern guard Lindsay Pulliam attempts a shot during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
during the Iowa/Northwestern Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March, 1, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 55-45. Iowa takes on No.4 Minnesota on Friday. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

But perhaps the part of the experience that stuck with me the most was the continual inner monologue about my role as a black, woman photojournalist. Getting the opportunity to travel for work has been a dream, and I’ve attempted to hold every memory from the experience close to me; I journaled through a thread on Twitter, I still have every receipt I received, and of course, I took tons of photos. So to have the most potent part of the whole experience be the ability to see what future could look like — my future as one of few black, woman photojournalists — is a little unsettling to me.

I’ve had less than pleasant experiences when working for the DI outside Iowa City. After an experience in December in Ames covering men’s basketball in which I was verbally harassed by a male photographer, my experience there was soured, and I ran home to Iowa City with my tail between my legs, too spooked to ever leave again. My working under pressure ended up creating some of the best work I’ve made at the DI, though. Despite my photos from that game being a turning point in my skills as a photographer, I feared that my anxiety toward this happening would ruin my ability to cover the game well.

I set my gear down on my spot on the baseline at Bankers Life Field House in Indy and scanned the bustling arena. The photo on my credential, me smiling, taken maybe 20 minutes before, was a stark difference to the look on my face, nerves and bewilderment. A USA Today stringer warmed me up to the space throughout the game, I introduced him to the quirks of the Iowa women’s basketball team, he told me about the dying art of getting a job in journalism.

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The Minnesota Spirit Squad performs a stunt in front of the Soldiers and Sailors before the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
I-Club members snap a photo with Herky the Hawk during a pre-game Hawkeye Huddle at Tin Roof before the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa and Minnesota players meet at half court during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa and Minnesota players attempt to tip the ball during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Minnesota guard Gadiva Hubbard dribbles the ball around Iowa guard Makenzie Meyer during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Minnesota guard Gadiva Hubbard and Iowa guard Makenzie Meyer chase the ball out of bounds during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle attempts a shot during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa guard Makenzie Meyer sits during a timeout during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Minnesota guard Kenisha Bell attempts a shot during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa fans shine flash lights during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Chase Coley loses control of the ball during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson walks towards the huddle during a timeout during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson fights for the ball during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson attempts a shot during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Minnesota guard Kenisha Bell attempts a shot during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa guard Alexis Sevillian blocks Minnesota players during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Minnesota players celebrate a win during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson walks toward the locker rooms during the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Herky the Hawk reacts to the loss after the Iowa/Minnesota Big Ten tournament basketball game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March, 2, 2018. The Golden Gophers defeated the Hawkeyes, 90-89. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

He later emailed me a few kind words, thanking me for being a good sport and having a good attitude. I thank any professional out there a million times over for being nice and helpful to me when I’m learning. I often cater my outside appearance to the people I’m around; there are very few people who know me who really know me. So if I can’t create a version of me who can connect to white counterparts in my field, I’m afraid WOC students who come after me, who are more confident in their abilities than I am, and who hold more ownership of their blackness than I often do, won’t connect or succeed as well.

Despite the confidence-building that has taken place during this job, I still spend a lot of time being anxious. How are people perceiving me? Am I allowed to be angry, and argue my stance? Does this make me difficult to work with? Am I perceived as an angry black woman? I’d like to believe no one in my life sees me as only my race, but it only took a few backhanded comments and microaggressions from people I consider friends and family before I realized that wasn’t true, whether I attempt to own my place in this world as a black woman or not. I feel like there’s no way for me to win.

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DITV sports reporter Lucy Rohden speaks to Iowa fans before the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Billy Bluejay poses before the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Blue Jays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Herky the Hawk pranks an Iowa Pep Band member before the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa fans pose for a photo before the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
 
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson prepares for her introduction during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Creighton guard Temi Carda drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa guard Kathleen Doyle drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
The Creighton Dance Team and Pep Band perform during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson prepares to attempt a free throw during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa guard MaKenzie Meyer drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa players high five between plays during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Hannah Stewart guards a Creighton player during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Creighton guard Sydney Lamberty dribbles the ball during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson attempts a shot during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
The Iowa Pep Band performs during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Carly Mohns holds the ball during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Amanda Ollinger and Creighton guard Temi Carda fight to control the ball during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder speaks with the team during a timeout during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa forward Megan Gustafson attempts a shot during the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
The Iowa Pep Band and Herky the Hawk sing the Iowa Alumni Song after the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)
From left: Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder, forward Megan Gustafson and forward Hannah Stewart speak in a press conference after the Iowa/Creighton NCAA tournament first round basketball game at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 17, 2018. The Bluejays defeated the Hawkeyes, 76-70. (Lily Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Every black person I know is on an eternal grind for success, so people like them, both in terms of class and race – don’t have to work as hard to obtain success in the future.

One day last summer, I went to visit my old high school journalism teacher’s class at Hoover in Des Moines. The school is considered the most diverse high school in the state, with a minority enrollment of 67 percent of the students (Iowa’s average is 22 percent). I found myself standing in front of a diverse group of kids who were trying to figure out their next step.

That was my moment.

Being back in my hometown, away from Iowa City for a brief period, I was in a space surrounded by others who look like me. That was the moment I realized that I, too, could influence future photojournalists, just as others have done for me.

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