Pit Photography Workshop at Warped Tour

This summer I went to Warped Tour and participated in a rock pit photography workshop with photographer Lisa Johnson. It was an experience of a life time.

I got to photograph rock bands, some I have never heard of before, but all of which I couldn’t imagine I would be able to. I got the opportunity to be in the pit for New Years Day, William Control, Stacked Like Pancakes, Andy Black and Dance Gavin Dance.

This a different experience than the time I photographed DNCE at Central Michigan University. I had to struggle with the changing light since the festival was in the day time. I had to deal with different types of security and getting into the pit. I also had to work with different lenses. I knew this experience would be a bit of a struggle because I do not own a wide angle lens and had to struggle with getting the shot. Through all of these minor struggles, I learned a lot from this workshop.

I learned about the safety lane that you have to leave for security so they can get to fans that are crowd surfing. I experienced having to work with a lot of photographers and not a lot of space to work around. Most importantly, I know this is what I want to do. I need more experience, I know I have a lot of work on and I can grow as a pit-photographer, but my passion for this has only grown.

Below are my personal favorite 12 photos from my time at Warped Tour. Enjoy!

Critics/Opinions/Feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Nikki Misery from the band New Years Day plays during their set at the Van’s Warped Tour in Auburn Hills, Mich., Friday, July 21, 2017.

Ashley Costello (left) and Jeremy Valentyne (right) from New Years Day perform during their set at Van’s Warped Tour in Auburn Hills, Mich., Friday, July 21, 2017.

A crowd of fans cheers during the set of Dance Gavin Dance at the Van’s Warped Tour in Auburn, Mich., Friday, July 21, 2017.

Wil Francis (right) and Ben Tourkantonis (left) perform on the Skullcandy stage at Van’s Warped Tour in Auburn Hills, Mich., Friday. July 21, 2017.

Wil Francis (right) and Ben Tourkantonis (left) perform on the Skullcandy stage at Van’s Warped Tour in Auburn Hills, Mich., Friday. July 21, 2017.

Kellen McKay, lead singer of Stacked Like Pancakes, stands on the hands of the crowd during their performance at Van’s Warped Tour in Auburn Hills, Mich., Friday, July 21, 2017.

(From left to right) Alec Leventis, Kellen McKay, Andy Dawson, and Zach Foote perform on the Skullcandy stage at Van’s Warped Tour in Auburn Hills, Mich., Friday, July 21, 2017.

Andy Black performs at Van’s Warped Tour in Auburn Hills, Mich., Friday, July 21, 2017.

Andy Black performs at Van’s Warped Tour in Auburn Hills, Mich., Friday, July 21, 2017.

A fan crowd surfs during the performance of Andy Black at the Van’s Warped Tour in Auburn Hills, Mich., Friday, July 21, 2017.

(From left to right)Kellen McKay, Alec Leventis, Andy Dawson, and Zach Foote perform on the Skullcandy stage at Van’s Warped Tour in Auburn Hills, Mich., Friday, July 21, 2017.

Andy Black performs at Van’s Warped Tour in Auburn Hills, Mich., Friday, July 21, 2017.


A Day in the Life of Rabbi B

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/215874382″>A Day in the Life of Rabbi B</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user43506384″>Alison Zywicki</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Rabbi Becca Walker (aka “Rabbi B”) is the Senior Jewish Educator for Hillel at MSU and Hillel Campus Alliance of Michigan (HCAM). Rabbi B has been an official Rabbi for about a year or so, after 9 years of school from undergrad to rabbinical. Being a member of the conservative movement there can be challenges as a woman rabbi, since only recently the movement opened up the idea of having them. The Jewish Conservative Movement is apart of the three Western “movements” or divisions of Judaism, Reformed, Conservative, and Orthodox. So in understanding this, Rabbi B follows an authentic Jewish lifestyle from keeping Kosher to not traveling or using electricity on Shabbat. This does not make her boring for Rabbi B is one of a kind.

She relates extremely well to collegiate students, who she works with on a day to day basis. As the Senior Jewish Educator, Rabbi B is there to help students learn about Judaism (religiously and culturally), interfaith, theology and most importantly showing that being Jewish is part of life. She leads Shabbat services every week and she leads the high holiday services as well for the Jewish community. In addition, Rabbi B works with the Hillel staff on planning events from interfaith dinners to Sparty’s Bar-Mitzvah Party, that they hold twice a year. She also brings a creative side to Jewish learning with her music videos relating to holidays and events and crafts, such as your Jewish glasses.

This is Rabbi B’s first year working with Hillel at MSU and HCAM and we cannot wait to see moe amazing things from her. Watch her video profile above to learn more.

Fighting Antisemitism on CMU’s Campus

Fighting Antisemitism on CMU’s Campus from Alison Zywicki on Vimeo.

In February, an Antisemtic valentine made at party  hosted by  the College Republicans was passed out in Ansapch Hall. This valentine stated “My love burns for you like 6,000 Jews” and in addition had a cutout if Hilter placed on it. A photo of this valentine was posted to Facebook immediately afterwards and spread through social media like wildfire. The posts caught the attention of various News organizations and reached all the way to the Israeli Press. In addition, the Jewish student organization at CMU, Hillel, was informed and they contacted the Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equity to combat the valentine and to hold a formal inquiry. As a result it was learned that the valentine did not come from a registered CMU student, CMU’s  President Ross issued an email to the campus apologizing for the valentine, and the College Republicans issued an apology via Facebook.

The campus came together a day later to hold a rally and peaceful march against hate speech on campus. Members from Hillel, Hadley Platek and Steven Keene both shared their experiences with Antisemitism and many other community members spoke up about their experiences involving hate speech. The OCRIE office also held two town halls one on Faith and the other on Free Speech to help educate the campus student body.

Watch the video to learn more.

Women of CMU 12. Kathleen Trombley

Senior Kathleen Trombley poses for a portrait in the Bovee University Center on the campus of Central Michigan University, Tuesday, March 28, 2017. “My definition of a feminist is just someone who understands the barriers rooted in this country that go against women and how difficult it is to triumph over those, but continues to do that anyway. Put in the work, put in the advocacy, the activism to try and override those barriers, because obviously they are unequal. So, just really trying to be as intersectional as well with your feminism. Knowing that everyone women of every demographic is involved and they all have equal opportunity to be present in this country as much as any man. I would say also that a feminist is someone who also does more to dismantle those (barriers) for other women, not just themselves,” states Kathleen.


This is our last #WomenofCMU entry. This journey was amazing and I have learned so much about women leaders on our campus and different perspectives on what it means to be empowered. I hope you all enjoyed this campaign as much as I did and I look forward to restarting it again next March in honor of Women’s History Month because there are so many more amazing women on this campus that deserve a shoutout.

Say hello to our final and 12th #WomenofCMU for this year, Kathleen Trombley. Kathleen is a senior here at CMU. She is a 2 year SAPA (Sexual Aggression Peer Advocates) member and is a program coordinator within the group. She is also an intern with the Office of LGBTQ Services here on campus since February since February 2016.ml

“With SAPA it really was my experience as a survivor that got me involved in the group and got me interested, along with some of my friends that came before and they would talk about it with me. I was like wow this group is amazing and they do such great work on this campus. So, with that having inspiring women in my life that helped me, kind of pushed me into choosing SAPA and also my experience asa survivor, it made me realize that this is something that I wanted. Something that I would be good at. For a while I felt like I didn’t really find my niche here, I was involved in other things but, I didn’t feel totally comfortable involved in what I was doing until I go into SAPA. With the Office of LGBTQ Services, I am a member within the community, so barriers and struggles for those that are LGBTQ+ have always been something that has been close to my heart. I really understand how hard of a transition it can be coming to college and not really having a support group…I wanted to be that person within the office that maybe someone who is a freshman who didn’t have that support, they can be themselves with,” explains Kathleen.

There is always a reason we get involved in the organizations we choose. There is a reason women on this campus are empowered. For Kathleen, she stated the administrators of SAPA were women who helped motivate her to be an empowered woman and the best advocate she can be. It is everything to have a mentor to guide you and help you become the best version of you. Talking with Kathleen, I could just see her passion on the topics previously stated. She glowed and just shows pride, which is what you want to see in someone who is an advocate. She even wants to be involved as an advocate career wise. Studying Family Studies here at CMU, she has so many opportunities to help people and continue make her impact on this world.

“I would really love to work with individuals who come from families of abuse, whether it be domestic violence or alcohol…along with working with individuals in the queer community who may have experienced those as well…I just really want to work with groups of people when it is difficult to have voice sometimes, because of pressures our society has on those groups of people. Like survivors of sexual aggression and LGBTQ+ people…As someone who is in both of those groups, I understand how hard it can be sometimes and how difficult it can feel to rise about what you have experienced,” states Kathleen.

Kathleen really fits with my 5 pillars of feminism (look at previous posts to learn more), but I also thinks she belongs with her definition, or any definition. She stated her mentors were women who showed what it meant to be dedicated and hardworking, but I see her also being that person, even though it was just a 20 minute interview. That, to me, is extremely powerful. Kathleen, like all the women in this campaign, in some shape or form have left their stamp on this campus and they will be remembered. I am honored get to know these women, their passions, and their perspectives on why it is important to empower women today.

“Negative statements (against women) they produce a toxic culture, where we feel like there is a hierarchy where some individuals are more superior then others. That culture, it makes it okay for people to commit violence or harassment against specific groups of people, making it harder for them (minorities) to rise up in our society as equals…I think women of the past are a great platform, but we need to do better. For example, Susan B. Anthony, she was a great woman, she was a great advocate for women’s rights and women’s voting but, she was also only focused on white women. So, when we look to these women of the past, we also have to look at their areas of improvements. Women of today, Elizabeth Warren or Michelle Obama, (we have to look at) what they are doing now and how inclusive they are being now,” informs Kathleen.

Thank you Kathleen for allowing me to speak with you. Thank you so much for you advocacy on this campus and the positive impact you are making.



Women of CMU 11. Mariam Saad

Senior and international student, Mariam Saad, poses for a portrait in the Bovee University Center on the campus of Central Michigan Universit, Saturday, March 25, 2017.”An empowered woman is a woman who knows what she wants and works hard to get it without letting any obstacles stand in her face. An empowered woman is a woman who has equal rights with any man and is capable of making a difference and change around her, and is doing so…empowerment is not exclusive for men or women, it is matter of character, a trait of hard working, of determination, of faith in yourself and self confidence,” states Mariam. 


Say hello to our 11th #WomenofCMU, Mariam Saad. Mariam is a member and leader in the Muslim Student Association (MSA) here at Central Michigan University. I have had the honor of knowing Mariam for two years and she is someone who always brightens my day and has inspired me so much. MSA brings Muslim students together in a warm environment. They build connections and break barriers between students. They also raise awareness about Islam and try to get rid of some of the stereotypes and misconceptions around their faith.

“MSA was a home for me when I first came here. I didn’t know anyone and they welcomed me. I had a place to go, I had common ground between them, and I felt comfortable. At the same time it helped me build a relationship with so many people on the basis of raising awareness and spreading knowledge about Islam, which is something that I love,” Mariam explains.

MSA is an amazing organization on campus and they do such wonderful, inspiring and impactful things for CMU students. One of these was leading and organizing the march on campus this past Jan/Feb against the “Muslim Ban” that was being passed. This was such an emotional time because they had the support of so many people on campus. I know when I was there I saw tears in my friends eyes and I had to give her a hug and let her know that I will always have her back. Mariam lead chants and motivated the crowd through the cold. I was in awe of all that she was accomplishing and all that MSA was doing, it was beautiful.

“Organizing the march was a huge things and we didn’t actually expect it to have this outcome and turn out, but it turned out beautifully. We were working on it with our heart and souls, it touched each one of us personally. When we were working on it we tried to reach out to as much people as we know and more and more. During the march we were too emotional, too happy, too proud, and connected to everyone around us. It was amazing,” states Mariam.

Mariam is an international student from Lebanon. She is studying speech therapy and has great aspirations to do such amazing things with people. She graduates and leave the US this spring and I am so saddened that CMU will be absent of this amazing force of a woman.

“Islam is a religion of peace. It is a religion of beauty. I guess it is being misrepresented and people are seeing it in a very not realistic image…There are a lot of Muslim women who are not wearing a hijab, for me I am wearing a hijab. So, I am pretty clear what my religion is. The first thing they (people) see me wearing a hijab is that I am oppressed, I don’t have a choice, I am not that educated, I might be rolled by men, and all of these things, but it is not true. I am actually a person who is very educated, very independent, who works hard to get to her dreams…It is something that people get to know after they meet me,” Mariam explains.

Mariam continues to educate and change the way people think, little by little. She has made such a huge impact in my life and I know so many others, from MSA and around campus. I think Mariam is everything you want to see in an empowered woman. She is independent, proud, strong, and she doesn’t let anything stop her. I admire her so much for that.

“It is important for women to know that whatever is politically happening, that doesn’t mean they can change the way that they look at themselves or who they truly are, because they are powerful before that and will stay the same way after that. They need to know that they have enough power to actually make a difference and make a change of what people think about them. Maybe this political issue that is happening will help them (women) know the value that they have for themselves more, because no one would fight something they are not afraid of. For them to fight women, it means that they are afraid of them and this means that they (women) are really powerful. They (women) should know that the poor they have in a society is way beyond what they think they do…There are so many elements of society that wouldn’t on without women,” Mariam informs.

Thank you Mariam for everything you do for this campus, for MSA, and for women all around. You are an amazing soul and I am so proud to know you. Continue to break barriers and shut down stereotypes. I cannot wait to see all the great things you accomplish later in life. Thank you for leaving your stamp on this campus.

Women of CMU 10. Payton Salomon

Central Michigan sophomore, Payton Salomon, poses for a portrait in the lobby of Larzelere hall on the campus of Central Michigan University, Saturday, March 25, 2017. “For me, when I first came to Central I thought feminism was something completely different than what is actually is. So, when I came to Central, I thought it was just females overcoming men, which I don’t feel like that defines feminism anymore. I feel that feminism is standing up for equality between men and woman and allowing us to be at the same point. Not as much equality, but equity too. They (men) get this privilege that we will never have and I think that by just giving us the same opportunities, we can do what we were meant to do and reach our own heights. Feminism for me is starting at the same point and allowing us to take is further…I want to have the same opportunities as everyone else,” Payton explains.


Say hello to our 10th #WomenofCMU!

Payton Salomon is a sophomore here at Central Michigan University studying in the Bio Medical field. She is in the honors college and a research assistant studying C. Elegant worms and their genetics involving stem cell research. When she is not in classes or doing research, she volunteers with the Flint Task Force Water Crisis on campus, participates as the Treasure for Larzelere Hall Council, and is soon to be a apart of Residential Life this fall as a member of Saxe Hall staff.

“I am going to be a doctor, no one is going to tell me I am not going to be,” states Payton

Payton is showing the world that gender does not matter when it comes to being a leader in this field. She is a woman in the STEM field and as a sophomore, she is already doing research. Research is extremely hard work; it takes up a lot of time and requires immense amount of dedication. She is  making an impact on campus by showing empowerment through women in science fields. Even in today’s society, there are still stereotypes places on women in these careers, but Payton has never let that stop her from following her dreams.

“I think it is very empowering, because I feel like a lot of people assume that it is going to be males (in the medical field). It also feels really cool when someone asks you, ‘oh are you going into the medical field,’ and they ask me if I am going to be a nurse or a PA, and I’m like nope, I’m going to be a doctor. Then they ask, ‘oh do you want to be an OBGYN?’ and Im like nope, I wanna be a trauma surgeon. People are kind of surprised, but they are always very like ‘ wow that is so cool of you, we need more women in this field.’ …I am going to be  woman taking on this role and it is going to be very satisfactory once I get there,” Payton explains.

In high school, Payton was a part of a competitive business group called “Business Professionals of America.” She came 2nd in the nation and 1st in the state for advanced spreadsheet application. This is amazing, because this part of the competition is very male dominant, so for Payton to show that she is a woman, she is smart, and kicking ass, she demonstrates that women can do anything and everything. Without her knowing it, these actions and the way she presents herself is positively impacting women. Payton is a prime example of what it means to be a powerful woman in a male dominated field. I am so honored to work with Payton on Saxe staff next year and in awe of all of her impressive accomplishments.

In addition, this campaign focuses on the empowerment of women. We all have our own views on how today’s society is when it comes to women and how we should be treated and loved. March is women’s history month, but lets not forget about the women of today, like Payton.

“So like obviously we do focus on women of the past because if you don’t know your history, it will repeat itself…But I think the women of today, a lot has changed in the past 100 years, from voting rights, women in the work force and stuff like that. We are obliviously still at a disadvantage and have stereotypes, but we have to see that we are so much different then where women were. Yet, we can’t just settle with where we are because of how far we’ve come. Women should not be paid any less then a man for a similar position or job, like I am literally so dumbfounded by that, it makes no sense to me…I think that with the political jazz that has been happening, I think it almost a step backwards. He is not saying things that are empowering women. He is not helping us rise to this challenge we are already given…Its 2017, we shouldn’t be treating a woman like an object anymore, and people still do. We are not trying to take two steps back, but at the same time put it in a positive light. Seeing someone with so much power say stuff like that, I think has caused quiet a bit of an uproar and a lot of people were really upset. It kind o lit a fire, if people were settling with how much progress we have had, you see something like that you are like ‘oh wait no, this isn’t cool, this isn’t going to happen’. It fires people up and people got more involved and more inspired,” explains Payton.

Thank you Payton for not letting anything stop you and pushing through any obstacle you face. You truly are an inspirational person and please continue to show people how amazing you are. You will be the best doctor and rightfully so.