This project was commissioned by the Lumina Foundation, a national foundation committed to ensuring more adults earn college degrees or other credentials of value.
The foundation focuses primarily on ensuring quality education and training for people who are Black and brown, the first in their families to attend college, are from low-income families, or are working-age adults. For these reasons, the foundation focuses primarily on community colleges, regional public universities, and minority-serving institutions that serve a majority of American college students.
In 2020, to highlight that today’s students are not mostly first-time, full-time students living on four-year residential campuses, which is the popular image, I began working with Lumina Foundation to capture the lives of today’s college students in photo essays, which The Guardian published. This work highlights the authentic lives of today’s college students. They are older, more likely to be Black and brown, the first in their families to go to college, working and caring for children and parents, and from families with fewer financial means.
The invitational reception will open an in-person gallery exhibition of this work at Northern Virginia Community College in September 2022. The primary objective is to educate federal policymakers and their aides about the lives of today’s college students, the systemic challenges these students face, and the multi-faceted nature of their college journeys. The guest list will include relevant members of the U.S. House and Senate (House Education, Senate Help, etc.), education committee staff, congressional staff aides, relevant Virginia and local officials, and organizations supporting today’s students.