Alexia Grant recipients included on ‘Best Photojournalism of the Decade’ list

Kaushal and Rajni at their marriage ceremony. Three sisters—Radha, 15; Gora, 13; and Rajni, 5—were married to their young grooms Aleen, Giniaj and Kaushal on the Hindu holy day of Akshaya Tritiya. Photo by Stephanie Sinclair.

Among the 10 photographers included on National Geographic’s list of the best photojournalism of the decade are three Alexia Grant recipients. Two of the featured projects were funded in part by Alexia Grants.

Stephanie Sinclair was honored for her work documenting child marriage. Noted National Geographic, “The project spurred a nonprofit dedicated to empowering women and ending child marriage.”

Sinclair received the Alexia Grant in 2008 to document child marriage in India, where she captured girls as young as five being married off, as well as a brave young girl who stood up against the practice.

Mary F. Calvert was commended for her work on sexual assault in the U.S. military and its lingering effects.

Calvert received the Alexia Women’s Initiative Grant in 2014 to document homelessness among female veterans, for whom sexual assault had derailed careers and caused long-lasting emotional impact. Calvert’s Alexia-supported project was the third chapter in her four-volume examination of the issue.

A black and white image of a woman crying.
Melissa Ramon endured military sexual trauma at the hands of her training instructor and fellow airmen during her nine years in the US Air Force. Ramon suffers from post-traumatic stress and has been homeless off and on since her discharge. Photo by Mary F. Calvert.

Matt Black’s “Geographic of Poverty” was also included on the list. Black traveled through 46 states and Puerto Rico, challenging the “mainstream representation of America’s poor,” discovering “who gets their needs met and who doesn’t; who’s valued and who isn’t.”

Black was awarded the Alexia Professional Grant in 2003 for “The Forgotten Black Okies: A Lost Journey into a Land of Broken Promises,” and the Alexia Student Grant in 1994 for “The Transbay Terminal: San Francisco’s Destitute Gateway.”

Black and white photo of a man standing in the doorway of a small shack, surrounded by detritus.
Louisiana migrant at home. Photo by Matt Black.

In addition, Maggie Steber, a judge for the 2012 Alexia Grant competition, was honored for her work documenting the world’s first face transplant.

“The Alexia: 30 Years,” recently published by the Alexia Foundation, features the photographic work supported by the Alexia Grants over the last three decades, including projects by Sinclair, Calvert and Black. Books are available for purchase through the Syracuse University Bookstore. All proceeds will directly support future grant recipients.

Former Newhouse students find work at National Geographic

For three years after leaving Newhouse to pursue a career in photography, former multimedia, photography and design student Vi Nguyen worked as a freelancer in New York City. Now, she’s landed what most photographers would consider a dream job: photo coordinator at National Geographic.

“The last few years have been kind of crazy,” says Nguyen. “This is the first time where it’s been somewhat stable, where I know when my next paycheck is going to be.”

Nguyen is thankful for the opportunity to work at the internationally acclaimed magazine.

“It’s a really good place for me to learn what it is I want to do in the realm of photography,” she says.

While at Newhouse, Nguyen worked closely with Mike Davis, Newhouse’s Alexia Tsairis Endowed Chair in Documentary Photography, who also used to work at National Geographic. After leaving Syracuse, she kept in contact with him.

“Mike has always been really involved with the photo community, inside and outside of Newhouse,” says Nguyen. “[He’s good at helping you] get your foot in the door at these organizations.”

It was Davis who alerted Nguyen about the position at National Geographic, which she assumed at the end of the summer.

Davis says his former colleagues regularly ask him for recommendations when positions become available because they trust his judgement. This has resulted in six of Davis’ former Newhouse students, including Nguyen, finding positions at National Geographic.

“The richest aspect of working there is the scope and depth of the types of stories that you get to engage with,” says Davis. “It’s also amazing how broad the types of images you have to create are compared to most journalistic settings.”

Another one of Davis’ former students, Andrea Wise G’15, is a contract photo editor at National Geographic and says the publication’s dedication to supporting documentary photography is unique.

“Too often, photographers are asked to do more with less, so it is a dream to have the time and resources to properly support photographers so they can produce their best work,” says Wise. “I have worked in this field, first as a photojournalist, then as a photo editor, for nearly a decade and I have never worked in such a visually-driven newsroom before.”

The reason Newhouse students end up at places like National Geographic is because of the range of skills they’re taught, says Davis.

“I teach equal doses of how to produce images and how to develop projects, edit projects. So, every student leaves here with equal skill sets, as opposed to most programs [where] you learn how to make pictures or you learn how to be an editor,” says Davis. “I think they’re intertwined.”

Visual communications department chair Bruce Strong says the fact that many former students are working at places like National Geographic says a lot about Newhouse as a school

“Our students’ photographic work consistently wins many awards and has been published by National Geographic before,” says Strong. “This clearly demonstrates that our department’s strategy is working.”

Adrianne Morales is a senior in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.

Above: Vi Nguyen and some images she took for National Geographic.

Fall Workshop

Founded by the Visual Communications faculty in 1999, the Fall Workshop gives photography students the opportunity to tell visual stories about the world around them.

The Fall Workshop brings top professionals from around the world to join our professors as we push students to identify, observe and artfully communicate the core of who we are and the issues we face in everyday life.In the process, students learn to better use still photography, audio, video, motion graphics, design and words to become exceptional storytellers who engage the community.

Featured Alumni

Multimedia, photography and design graduates are now shooting for some of the biggest names in the business. Their work can be seen in print and digital publications around the globe.


Our impressive faculty of renowned professionals and industry-tested experts will help you become the visual creative you want to be.


Graduates of our program work as multimedia storytellers and producers, directors of multimedia/photography/visuals departments and web-based multimedia journalists.

Some also work as traditional picture editors, newspaper and documentary photographers, advertising and fashion photographers, portrait photographers, freelance editorial photographers and university instructors.

Here are what some recent multimedia, photography and design graduates are doing now:

Michael Santiago G’19

Staff Photojournalist
Getty Images

Xiang Wei G’17

Assistant Photo Editor
Xinhua News Agency






Your passion for all types of visual storytelling—photography, videography, cinematography, graphic design, motion design, immersive design, UIUX design and multimedia—makes you the perfect candidate for a one-year, intensive program that will help launch your career in visual communications.


The multimedia, photography and design program helps students understand the rich heritage of still photography as they explore the evolving world of multimedia storytelling. 

Multimedia, Photography and Design Master’s Program Schedule

Second Summer Session (6 credits):

COM 698 Media Law3
VIS 601 Photography and Multimedia Fundamentals
VIS 607 Graphic Design Fundamentals

Fall Semester (13 credits):

VIS 602 Essentials for Visual Communicators (three 1-credit modules)-Advanced Productivity
-Design or Photography
VIS 642 Professional Practices for Visual Communicators3
VIS Foundation Course-Choose from foundation course options with approval fro your advisor in your chosen academic emphasis3

Spring Semester (12 credits):

VIS 622 Visual Communications Theory3
VIS Advanced Course-Choose from advanced course options with approval from your advisor in your chosen academic emphasis3
Portfolio Requirement-VIS 669 Portfolio Review0

First Summer Session (6 credits):

VIS 639 Advanced Projects3
VIS 689 Master’s ProjectsorVIS 997 Master’s ThesisorElective with advisor permission3

Total Credits in Program: 37

Academic Emphasis:

Students are required to complete an emphasis that satisfies their individual career goals. Faculty advisors will work with students to select two courses that build a critical understanding in a particular area of interest. Recommended emphases can include, but are not limited to the following:

Multimedia, Photography and Design

Housed in our distinguished visual communications department, the multimedia, photography and design master’s degree encourages you to customize your curriculum by mixing and matching courses to serve your creative and career goals.

Photo by Maranie Staab G’20

The multimedia, photography and design program attracts students who are passionate about all types of visual storytelling: photography, videography, cinematography, graphic design, motion design, immersive design, UIUX design and multimedia.