2005 — student winner
Erika Schultz was born and raised in central Wyoming. She attended college at Northern Arizona University and Syracuse University London, and works as a Seattle Times staff photographer. She loves the American West, Spanglish, well-told tales and to travel.
Her work has been recognized by the Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism, Pictures of the Year International, National Edward R. Murrow Awards, The Alexia Foundation for World Peace, Society of Professional Journalists and was a finalist for the 2010 ASNE Community Service Photojournalism award. She also was part of The Seattle Times’ 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning team for Breaking News Reporting.
Science and sheer stubbornness propel today's senior citizens to advanced old age. I will explore the diversity and culture within modern society's growing elder population.
In less than 50 years, the number of people more than the age of 65 will surpass the number of young people for the first time in the world's history. America's baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, will start turning 65 within the next five years. The population of people more than the age of 65 is expected to explode, and keep increasing until 2050. U.S. demographics are changing, and so are its people and cultural norms. Our mothers, uncles, grandmothers and neighbors are redefining how to live life to its fullest. They are becoming more diverse and leading longer, fuller lives than their predecessors. This generation is debuting a golden renaissance and carrying the note long after they blow out the 65 candles on their birthday cakes.
Nowhere is this more true than in Arizona. I will begin a project in spring 2005 to examine the issues and experiences of growing older in this region of the United States. I chose to humanize and personalize this topic because it is often overlooked by America's youth-based culture. I hope to share the wisdom, vivacity, cultural differences and struggles of Arizona's seniors.
This project will be divided into three sections. The first segment will record unique and compelling individuals, who live their lives in an extraordinary manner. The second segment will examine how different cultures in Arizona care for senior citizens. The final segment of the photo documentary will investigate the current issues individuals more than age of 65 face today. I plan to finish the first segment by May. With the help of the Alexia Foundation, I will finish the remaining sections.
In the remainder of the proposal, I will list stories I hope to capture:
• Each spring, the annual Ms. Senior America Pageant takes place in Sun City, Ariz. The pageant is designed to honor women who have reached the "Age of Elegance."
• The largest concentration of 100-year-olds in the United States lives amid southern Arizona's volcanic-rock and saguaro foothills. Tucson's 18th annual "Salute to the Centenarians" will take place in April.
• Residing in the historic Fort Whipple VA hospital, a 60-year-old barber is trying to complete his master's degree.
• An 86-year-old environmental activist calls Jerome, Ariz. her home. But this country western singer, poet, author and Colorado River runner truly feels at home in the Southwest's beautiful and uncharted wilderness.
• There are an estimated three million lesbian and gay individuals in the United States more than 60, yet there is only a handful of retirement communities open to homosexual individuals. The Pueblo in Apache Junction, Ariz. is one of them.
• In Flagstaff, Ariz., a Navajo medicine man delivers his traditional knowledge to indigenous college students, passing on the lessons and values of their culture.
• Rising prescription drug costs drive Arizonans, many of them more than age of 65, to the small towns along the Mexican border to purchase lower-priced medicine.
• Many social work agencies and private outreach groups are expanding their services to prepare elders for the last stages of their lives.