Picture Stockton... in black and white

Makenzie Larkin

Galloway, N.J. - Makenzie Larkin, a senior Visual Arts major, spent a semester shooting portraits and then intentionally eliminated color to focus our attention on what matters most—the people who turn the Stockton University campus into a community. 

She set out to capture a photo series and find out why students and faculty choose to study and teach at Stockton. The process opened her eyes to the diversity of talents, interests and stories of overcoming challenges, and left her feeling impressed and proud of her fellow Ospreys.  

Meeting junior Abriana Velez showed her the power in perception versus reality and how dedication makes dreams come true.

“Abriana came from a place where education wasn't taken seriously, and to see that she is going above and beyond and beating all expectations is really inspiring. It just goes to show that it doesn't matter where you come from, but as long as you try, you can get what you want,” she said.

Larkin first picked up a camera to capture meaningful moments in her own life, but the process of making those images left her with much more than prints.

“When I was 11, my dad left. Photography filled in the absence that I felt,” she explained.

Looking through her camera brought a new clarity to her life. “Once you have something that's taken away from you, you begin to see things in a different way,” she explained.

Photography showed her everything that she did have, which in turn filled her with gratitude. 

Larkin always thought she would go to college to study history and the Holocaust, but as she got older, she began to process loss and realized that photography was a constant in her life.

She chose to major in Visual Arts to pursue portrait photography.

“I shoot in black and white because the absence of color is comfortable and familiar to me, and it allows me to observe the photo in more depth because you don't have color to rely on. The detail and the depth in my photographs show me the things that have come into my life,” she said.

Below is Larkin’s photo story, captured for her internship with University Relations and Marketing, that shares why people choose Stockton and highlights their own unique stories that make our community vibrant.

Reported by Susan Allen

Photos and captions by Makenzie Larkin 

Abriana Velez

Abriana Velez is a junior Social Work major and Childhood Studies minor. Her passion for social work stems from personal experiences, her adopted cousins and two best friends who were also foster kids. Growing up, she witnessed the challenges they faced within the system, which deeply affected her and sparked her desire to make a difference.

Despite facing adversity in her upbringing, Abriana has defied expectations and excelled academically. 

She describes herself as strong, highlighting her resilience in overcoming the obstacle of growing up in a rough neighborhood where education is not highly valued along with a learning disability that made her learning style different from others. Despite facing judgments and being underestimated, Abriana has thrived and is determined to make a positive impact in the lives of others. 

She is fueled by her compassion and personal experiences. She chose Stockton for its welcoming and supportive environment, which she describes as feeling like home.

Justin Hayes

Justin Hayes, a 2023 graduate, embarked on his journey at Stockton with a passion for photography and art. Inspired by his high school days of capturing and editing photos, Justin chose to pursue this major, envisioning a career where he could turn his passion into profit.

Although Stockton was his second choice, he quickly recognized and took advantage of the opportunities offered, especially considering the connections he fostered through Oakcrest High School's media program.

Beyond his lens, Justin's personality shines. He admits to sometimes appearing too serious on camera, but, in person, he exudes a delightful goofiness that adds a unique charm to his character.

Mackenzie Morgan

Mackenzie Morgan is a senior pursuing her passion for performing arts. Her plans vary from working with elders, to becoming her own yoga instructor, and even teaching the youth about the art of dance.

After graduation, Mackenzie has a job lined up as an elementary school teacher, teaching her very own dance class.

Mackenzie picked Stockton because of its 17:1 student teacher ratio. The hand-on element made it an easy decision.

One thing many may not know about her is that she listens to almost every music genre.

Colin McHugh

Colin McHugh, a graduating senior, embodies the essence of a
passionate artist. Colin's journey into the world of Visual Arts and Visual Communications was ignited by a profound appreciation for its ability to convey and elicit emotions.

From his early days in middle school, art was more than just a hobby; it was a fervent calling.

For Colin, Stockton's allure wasn't merely academic; it was the campus's inviting ambiance and its proximity to his home that sealed the deal.

His creative muse extends beyond the visual realm. Music serves as a significant wellspring of inspiration, enriching his artistic endeavors with rhythm and melody.

As Colin prepares to embark on the next chapter of his artistic odyssey, his dedication to translating emotion into art promises to leave an indelible mark on the world around him.

Julia Schilling

Julia Schilling is a talented student at Stockton with aspirations in the medical field. She is pursuing a major in Biology with a concentration in Pre-Physical Therapy and a minor in Dance and hopes to contribute to the well-being of others in her future career path.

She finds fulfillment in the intimate class sizes and the opportunity to explore her passion for dance through her minor.

Beyond her academic pursuits, Julia shines as a dance teacher, expressing that teaching dance is her absolute favorite endeavor.

With her multifaceted interests and dedication to both science and the arts, Julia exemplifies the dynamic spirit of Stockton's student body.

Mac Hines

Mac Hines embodies a vibrant passion for the arts, particularly in photography, complemented by a minor in Africana studies.

Mac's journey into the visual arts is deeply rooted in a lifelong fascination with creativity and self-expression. For Mac, art serves as a medium through which thoughts and emotions find eloquent manifestation.

They opted for Stockton for its strategic location, which offered a blend of independence and proximity to home. This balance allows for both autonomy and the comfort of returning home when desired.

Beyond the lens, they find solace and creativity in crocheting, a testament to the diverse forms of artistic expression that fuel their imagination.

With an unwavering commitment to artistic exploration and cultural inquiry, Mac epitomizes the spirit of creativity and intellectual curiosity found in Stockton's Visual Arts program.

Stephen Nagiewicz

Professor Stephen Nagiewicz is a seasoned educator with a passion for environmental and marine science. He graduated from Stockton in 1974 and 2015 with a bachelor of science degree in Business and a Professional Science Master's degree.

He pursued higher education to deepen his expertise and broaden his career horizons, which allowed him to transition from teaching at the high school level to college.

Choosing Richard Stockton State College, now Stockton University, appealed to Stephen, who was excited to be a pioneering student. He welcomed the informal atmosphere fostered among professors, staff and students, and embraced the learning environment. 

Beyond academia, he nurtures a love for deep sea exploration, gardening, scuba diving and studying shipwreck history. With his extensive background and dedication to his field, he continues to inspire and educate future generations at Stockton.

Madison Muñiz

Madison Muñiz is an Education major with aspirations rooted in not only elementary education but dance too. Madison's journey reflects her lifelong ambition to become a teacher and her love for expression through movement.

Her desire to work with children has been a driving force throughout her academic career, fueled by her innate love for nurturing young minds.

Beyond the classroom, Madison finds solace and expression in the art of dance, considering it one of her greatest passions. Through her studies at Stockton, she blends her love for teaching with her dedication to dance. She aspires to inspire future generations through both mediums.

Milagros Palacios

Milagros Palacios is a junior pursuing a Liberal Studies degree with a concentration in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Childhood Studies. Her passion for teaching stems from her childhood desire to give back to her community and emulate the impactful guidance she received from her own teachers.

Stockton stood out to her for its student-centric approach and commitment to inclusivity, values she now experiences first-hand as a student leader.

Proudly representing her identity as a first-generation Latina college student, she hopes to inspire and challenge future students to strive for their best selves.

Leilani Moreno

Leilani Moreno's choice to major in Biology was fueled by a lifelong fascination with forensic investigation and a passion for science.

Her hands-on, visual approach to learning complements her academic journey, making every scientific discovery a captivating experience.

She was drawn to Stockton by its esteemed Biology program and the success stories of her cousins. She felt a profound connection to the institution long before she set foot on campus. Inspired by their achievements, she knew Stockton was the perfect environment for her to thrive.

Leilani's transition into the college mindset was made smoother with the assistance of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) program, solidifying her confidence in her ability to excel.

Beyond her academic pursuits, Leilani is a skilled Polynesian dancer, bringing her cultural heritage to life through captivating performances with a luau company, showcasing her multifaceted talents beyond the laboratory.





Makenzie Larkin is a senior Visual Arts major from Wildwood.  

The shots she enjoys capturing the most are those that show raw emotion—the everyday moments that shouldn’t be taken for granted. She describes herself as “a fly on the wall” in her approach to capturing candid images.

Her senior photography project, which was displayed in the Stockton Art Gallery, illustrated the everyday moments that bring richness to her own life.

We asked Larkin to share her greatest advice for new students.

“I would tell my freshman-year-self to not be so scared. If you are feeling insecure, try not to because everyone is doing their own thing. You'll literally turn into a person you never thought you'd turn into, so make sure it's for the best. Your college experience is what you make it,” she said.