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SOC Student Changemakers: Sami Pye

SOC Student Sami Pye found her place at AU by joining AU Photo Collective, and has been creating spaces for others ever since.

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Sami Pye is a senior pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in photography with a minor in studio art. As a student, Pye has focused on finding her place on AU’s politically active campus, and as a result, found herself joining AU Photo Collective. Through the Collective, she was able to connect with other students who are interested in photography, art, and storytelling through visuals. Her initial interest in the Photo Collective formed after being a part of SOC's Discover the World of Communication Program in high school. “Once I found a space that was more inclusive of everybody of all different majors and my similar interest, I felt more at home,” she said. 

One of the ways Pye has created change has been by using social media to create a broader online presence for The Photo Collective to connect with students on campus. With an emphasis on engagement and outreach, Pye is also focusing on inclusivity to make sure students are informed on the ways they can get involved and stay connected with the campus organization.

The senior is proud to be a part of an organization that focuses on building community with students from all backgrounds. “For me, it’s created a community, but it’s also cool to be able to create that experience for someone else, and understanding where people are in photography,” she said.“It’s been really valuable to me to see how creating that space, right now, has helped people find their spot in college.” 

Pye believes that representation in media is valuable because of the importance of seeing someone who looks like you on screen and the value of learning about the experiences of others. “I didn’t realize how narrow my education growing up was until I got to college, and I learned how diverse our history is and how much more diverse media can be,” she shared. College allowed the photographer to learn about the works of authors, artists of color, and LGBTQ+ artists that have shaped art history and photography. Her desire in what she does has become to seek proper representation within art and communication. “Seeing a more diverse lens as a person, as an artist and seeing myself was the biggest ‘aha’ moment for me because it taught me more about how narrow the world thinks it is, but also the importance of showing the value of seeing yourself and your friends and peers represented in different ways.” From her perspective, a more equitable future is one where all minorities and social groups can be represented in the media, are recognized, and provided with opportunities. “It isn’t equity if you aren't creating accessibility for people with disabilities, and also opening spaces for LGBTQ+ people, and creating an anti-racist society,” she explained. “It has to be the whole package.” 

Pye knows that the things she has taken away from her academic career will always help her further into her career. Over the years, She has grown a passion for advocacy and education in the arts, and hopes to share these passions with others. “There’s a lot to be said about using art in terms of social justice and activism, and I definitely want to do my part in that as well,” said Pye.

SOC Student Changemakers: Sami Pye

Despite her initial fears, SOC Junior Sami Pye has continued to create a path for herself as an artist with the support of an artistic community cultivated inside and outside of AU. Watch along as she talks about a piece of her journey and growth into art as a student at SOC.