A back arrow

All Articles

Photographing Women of UD

Photographing Women of UD

Kathryn Niekamp '21 March 03, 2021

Each March the University of Dayton Women’s Center works with students and professors in the design practicum class and the studio photography class to come together to celebrate the Women of UD honorees. I am not part of either of these classes this semester, although I have taken them both in the past. That's why I was particularly excited when art and design lecturer Kathleen Kargl ’92 asked me to help document the 2021 honorees through photos highlighting their lives and work, a complement to the official portraits that were being taken by the studio photography class.

The added imagery and variety seemed to be very important this year because of the state of things. The 2021 theme, "Leading with Character and Resilience," captures what it means to do work in the midst of a pandemic, social and political unrest, and economic uncertainty. Resilience, drive, character and tenacity were defining characteristics, as was adaption in finding ways to move forward. Much of the celebration of this year's honorees will be online, via social media and the video conference platform Zoom as coordinated by the Women's Center. Sophie Wilson, a senior photo major, Lucy Rauker, a senior graphic design major, and I collaborated to gather documentary images of the honorees. We read narratives written about the women and learned a little about their stories and why they were selected. It was truly a fun experience to get to meet up with these women of UD and spend some time with them.

One of the honorees in particular, Tiffany Taylor-Smith, who was nominated for her drive to bring inclusive excellence to all areas of university life, spent a good bit of time chatting with me about life and my experience as a UD student. I photographed her in her office full of paintings and pictures that showcased her family and things that represent her life experiences.


Rhonda Mercs, director of the Urban Child Development Resource Center, who I also photographed, had with her a T-shirt that young students in the Peacemakers program get to wear. It was a great conversation starter between the two of us and allowed me to learn more about her and why she was nominated as an honoree.


I was honored to meet these Women of UD and help share their character and resilience with you through my photographs.

Ash Wednesday