Cactus Shadows alumni wins photo journalism award from ASU

PHOENIX – Nicole Neri, who graduated from Cactus Shadows High School in 2016, won the Greg Crowder Memorial Photojournalism Award from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University (ASU).

Nicole was selected by a committee of professional photojournalists and ASU faculty for the award, which is given to one student each year.

According to the dean of the college, Nicole’s photos stood out for their excellent composition and use of color, interesting angles, and most importantly, for the way they told a story. These photos are on exhibit for one year at the Cronkite building on the third floor in downtown Phoenix.

A lifelong Cave Creek resident, Nicole developed a passion for photography at the age of 13, when she started playing with her twin sister Natalie’s point-and-shoot camera. Not long after, she was a winner in the Carefree Desert Gardens photo contest and her photos were part of the annual calendars.

Her photos also appeared regularly in the local newspaper, as well as in The Arizona Republic. At Cactus Shadows, she was a lead photographer for the school newspaper and the yearbook.

Last summer, she completed an internship at the Lincoln Journal Star in Nebraska, where her photos appeared on a dozen front pages for the daily newspaper.

As photo editor and multimedia director at the student-run Downtown Devil online publication, Nicole has been on the front lines of major news stories such as President Donald Trump’s explosive 2017 rally in downtown Phoenix and the local impact of DACA.

A junior at ASU, Nicole also received a scholarship from the Arizona Press Club this year, and she placed 13th in the nation for news and feature photography at the 2017 Hearst Journalism Awards.

As a freelance photographer for Reuters, her photos of Sen. John McCain’s memorial, as well as the Arizona primary election, recently appeared in The Wall Street Journal, MSN.com. and other worldwide publications.

In addition to being a full-time student and leader at the Downtown Devil, Nicole is working on the photo and video team for Cronkite News, as well as the ASU Enterprise Marketing Hub.

Following graduation, Nicole plans to pursue a career in photojournalism as a staff photographer at a news organization. In her rare spare time, she enjoys hanging out at hipster coffeehouses, watching Netflix, finding good new music, reading, origami and of course, taking pictures.

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