The Images of Aging Photo Contest is an annual tradition at ACU that invites students to submit photos that give the show a positive view of aging. The images are judged by a distinguished panel of judges with expertise in the field of photography. The images are judged based on the technical qualities of the photo along with the way that the image tells a story of aging. As you can imagine, this year provided some challenges when it came to having traditionally aged undergraduate students interacting with older adults. However, I am pleased to announce the winners!
Outstanding Image of Aging: Black and White
I took this photo of my grandmother on the Island of Oahu in 2017. We are always looking forward to our next adventure together. My grandmother is my best friend. She is the most beautiful, kindest, and wisest woman I know.
My grandmother has lived more life than anyone I know. She is cultured and as her days start to trickle down, I know she reminisces on her times in Southern France, Germany, Europe, Belgium, Holland, England, Mexico, etc. I see the light reflecting on her face, as if it is her past life experience sending her off into her next life. She knows the Lord is waiting for her so she looks towards the light instead of running away from it. I wanted to capture her talent of finding beauty in anything and everything. Her eyes steer towards the outdoors because that is what she craves. Her character is the thing I love most about her, and it deserves to be seen.
Outstanding Image of Aging: Color
John Jenista is a 91-year-old pilot! He also is a second-generation pilot under his father. He is widowed and lives in a hanger while my parents (who run Home Care Assistance) send caregivers to his house to keep him company and make sure he is safe and living well in the comfort of his home. Mr. Jenista loved to tell me stories about how he was able to race in his plane and about one time when he hit a buzzard on his way home. He showed me how big the dent was in his plane, it is now fixed, but he said the wing was completely bent to where he could not fly the plane properly without getting it fixed. I loved seeing how enthusiastic Mr. Jenista was with telling me about his stories and how open he was to be my model. Sometimes he could not find the exact words to communicate with me, but I could tell how happy he was to share his stories and I loved hearing every second of them.
“Una Hija, Una Madre, Una Abuela”
Yolanda Rodriguez-Escobar is from the West Side of San Antonio, Texas. She is a Daughter, a Mother, and a Grandma. She has gone through years of school working hard to receive her Bachelor’s degree, Master’s, and PhD all in the field of Social Work. She played a major part in founding Mujeres Unidas, which provided services for Latinas living with HIV or who were directly affected by HIV/AIDS. She is a recently retired professor from Our Lady of the Lake University. The vibrant colors in the picture add to her fun and loving personality, the Virgin Mary’s correlate to her faith, which is at the core of everything she does in life. My grandma is the person who has always told me to be proud of who I am and never forget where I come from. She takes pride in who she is, what she has done, and what she will continue to do for her family and her community.
Social Media Favorite
The picture is of Dr. Birken and Elizabeth performing a yoga pose named “Warrior 2.” They told me how they love choosing a time throughout each day to spend 30 minutes to an hour doing yoga in their upstairs game room. After Covid struck and they no longer could attend their local yoga studio, they found that they could still continue their favorite hobby by watching youtube videos that yoga instructors share online. Looking at this picture you may just see two people standing in a funny position. But to Dr. Birken and Elizabeth this is a picture of successful aging, and special time they get to spend with each other. Dr Birken said “At the age of 70, and an active exercise enthusiast, I do yoga for fitness, flexibility, core strength, and balance. When my gym closed at the start of the pandemic, I found online and streaming classes accessible and comprehensive. Also, doing yoga with my wife is another pleasant way for our social interaction as well as sharing our commitment to fitness.” His wife Elizabeth followed with this statement, “There are many benefits to Yoga, as well as many different forms of yoga for all ages and fitness levels. I like to continue healthy aging by opening up the joints daily, deep breathing, balancing and strengthening daily. Excellent for the core, and keeps a person’s heart healthy.” These statements are both perfect examples of what one can accomplish no matter the age!