Humans of Seton Hill began in the spring of 2015 with a simple conversation. Myke Brako, currently a second-semester junior computer science major, asked a friend if she knew of Humans of New York, a photography blog that highlights and celebrates people the photographer encounters on the streets of New York. The two, both interested in photography, asked themselves why such a thing didn’t exist at Seton Hill and began to make tentative plans.
“The big question,” said Brako, “Was how can I offer back to the community with the little talents that I have?”
By the next year, Brako’s friend had transferred and Humans of Seton Hill remained only an idea. It was in the head RA office that the idea was rekindled in yet another conversation, this time with Dipeeka Bastola, a 2016 graduate with a dual major in accounting and international organization.
The excitement between the two built as Brako shared his ideas with Bastola. Bastola then introduced Brako and his idea to a delighted Elise Michaux, the director of student involvement. Michaux had considered the prospect of Humans of Seton Hill before and had simply been waiting for a student to come up with the idea and take initiative.
With the organizational help and encouragement of Michaux, Humans of Seton Hill began. Initially it was a solo endeavor with all interviews conducted by Brako. He has since recruited three new photojournalists for his team.
Savannah Burch, a senior art therapy major, is one of these new additions. A Residence Assistant alongside Brako, she discovered a shared interest in photography. After some encouragement from Brako, she applied for a position as photojournalist with Humans of Seton Hill.
According to Burch, the addition of new photojournalists has allowed each to operate rather independently. One advantage of this is the ability to reach a wider audience than had previously been available when Brako worked alone; another advantage is the ability to help each other out. When schedules get busy and deadlines loom, the staff may collaborate with one member taking a picture while another conducts the interview.
Even with greater organization, the process of gathering stories remains fluid. Brako and the crew of Humans of Seton Hill strive to show members of the Seton Hill Community that every story is valuable; from within our own narrative, it can be difficult to take pride in what we’ve lived with.
“We all don’t know exactly who we are until we talk to other people. We all don’t know how important our stories are before we talk to other people,” said Brako.
Burch echoed this sentiment. “We begin to categorize and stereotype people so that we feel we understand them. However, there is a lot more going on than what we can see on the surface level. Everyone has a story you do not know.”
In future semesters, the Humans of Seton Hill crew aims to continue sharing stories and to grow its social media bases. Humans of Seton Hill can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with posts by Brako and Burch. Also working as photojournalists for Humans of Seton Hill are Anna Graziano, a junior with a dual major in marketing and entrepreneurial studies, and Olivia Rakas, a senior music major.