Award-winning documentary photographer and Baltimore Sun digital journalist Thalia Juarez of Baltimore is the 2020 Rising Star Scholarship winner, an initiative of the Pictures of the Year competition. The Rising Star Scholarship program, which launched in 2019, gives working visual journalists of color, with five or less years of professional experience, a chance to attend the judging, which is taking place Feb. 10 through March 3 at the Missouri School of Journalism’s Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute in Columbia, Mo.
Juarez says she is passionate about multimedia storytelling and reporting on under-covered topics. She is currently employed in an audience engagement position at the Baltimore Sun. In 2018 she had a photo highlighted by TIME’s Top 100 Photos for 2018 and has published her photos in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, among others.
She says she wants to pursue freelancing as a visual journalist full time eventually and says attending this event could help her take steps toward accomplishing that.
“When I found out about the POY Rising Star Scholarship program, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me and would be beneficial to my growth as a photojournalist,” she says. “I was excited about the possibility of seeing the work submitted by talented photographers from all over the world, and hearing industry leaders discuss the merits of their work. I was also really drawn to the prospect of connecting with the judges.”
POY will pay for travel, food and hotel expenses as Juarez spends four days seeing “the best of the industry” and hearing the judges’ debates, as well as meeting students from the Missouri School of Journalism and interacting with some of the judges.
This year’s judges work for or have submitted images to outlets including The New York Times, India Today, National Public Radio and National Geographic. Photographers submitted more than 30,000 images, along with short films and online storytelling presentations.
POY is the oldest and most prestigious photojournalism program and competition in the world. Created in 1944 at the Missouri School of Journalism as The First Exhibition of Spot News and Feature Photography, founder Cliff Edom intended to recognize newspaper and magazine photographers on the World War II home front. It has since evolved into an international competition with more than 40,000 entries annually. It became affiliated with the Missouri School of Journalism’s Reynolds Journalism Institute in 2008. POY receives financial support from RJI and photographers, editors and publications who enter the annual competition as well as the POY Endowment.