1996 — student runner-up
Michel Fortier is a seven-year veteran of the Naples Daily News and is a graduate of the Western Kentucky University School of Journalism where he won numerous awards. Those awards include the Alexia Tsairis Foundation Scholarship, numerous category wins in the College Photographer of the Year competition and first place in the Hearst Photojournalism Competition, considered to be the Pulitzer Prize of collegiate photojournalism. He also studied abroad at Ho Chi Minh City University in Vietnam studying the Vietnamese language and culture and working on documentary projects in his free time. During his short newspaper career, Michel has also worked for The Dallas Morning News, Minneapolis Star-Tribune and the New York Daily News before becoming a staff photographer at the Naples Daily News in 1998.
Asian gangs have become the rule rather than the exception in many Asian communities in the U.S. My own community in Kentucky has seen a group calling themselves the “Tiny Rascals.” The gangs flourish with ever increasing numbers. Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese children as young as nine suffer through a ritual beating to join the gang where many of their older siblings are members. I am attempting to discover why the “Tiny Rascals” choose to leave behind their culture and family, replacing it with their own” group” solidarity. I am an Asian studies minor and I have studied the Asian and Cambodian communities here for some time. My Asian cultural studies are taking me to study at Ho Chi Minh University in Vietnam for four months where I will document teenagers in both north and south Vietnam.
My goal is to discover and document the reasons why Vietnamese teenagers reject culture and family and what similarities they may have to Vietnamese teenagers in the United States, especially those in the “Tiny Rascals”.
My hope is to find similarities between the two groups that will help society understand the importance culture plays in the family, community and the development of children within society.