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Sharing the Joy

Guilt can be a curious thing. It can paralyze someone into a state of inactivity, or it can motivate an individual to make a difference. Wendy Thomas chose the latter.

Thomas, a research associate for the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities and MSU alumna, was not directly affected by the 2011 Souris River Flood but "felt awful and walked around with survivor's guilt most of the summer."

"My husband and I believe that if you have a talent or interest, you should use it to help others and from that you will get true joy," Thomas explained. "I really enjoy photography, and one day while practicing techniques with a friend's kid, I realized there are probably a lot of families whose spending priorities are not going to cover senior pictures. And I realized that's how I can help!"

So, in the blink of a shutter, Sharing the Joy was conceived.

After seeking blessings from MSU administrators and area photographers, Thomas distributed a flier announcing any senior from a flood affected home could get senior photos taken at no charge by a photography student from the MSU art department. School counselors from all three Minot High Schools and Burlington circulated her information. Thomas asked MSU art instructor Patrick Sheldon for student referrals, and three stepped up to help.

Rachel Romine
Dunseith native Rachel Romine is a senior, double majoring in photography and broadcasting.

Romine worked with one family who lost their home. Last fall, she and her charge took outside shots, but had to wait until after the senior had surgery to shoot formal pictures, which will happen soon.

"I, too, was flooded this summer and find the situation difficult," Romine said. "It made me feel good to help someone who needed it."

Ashley Duchsherer
Ashley Duchsherer graduated in May 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in photography.

She worked with three different seniors and found the experience of meeting them and hearing their stories "awesome."

"My husband and I lived three blocks from the flood. He was busy helping people move, but I was pregnant and felt like I couldn't do anything," Duchsherer said. "All the seniors I photographed were so thoughtful and grateful, and in spite of their circumstances, seemed to be in a really good place. I got a lot of hugs and smiles and that was really worth it for me."

Briana Schwan
Briana Schwan will graduate in May with a double major in art and photography. She was paired with a male and will take his pictures soon. Schwan is just getting into taking senior pictures and felt that getting more studio experience would be a nice addition to her portfolio.

"I am a college student, so I know how it is to not have a lot of money," Schwan said. "I remember as a senior looking at prices online and wondering if I could do them myself. It will be nice to help someone else out."