BYRON — Byron High School graduate Avery Tucker has loved photography since she was little, but she never considered turning her passion into a career until she heard a guest lecture during her graphic design class at the University of Iowa this past semester.
Tucker’s interest in photography took a leap forward when Daniel Matheson, Iowa’s director of sport and recreation management, informed her class about a summer practicum with the Chicago Blackhawks, an experience that has led to future career opportunities with the team. Around 80 students including Tucker applied for the practicum, and to her amazement, Tucker was one of 20 students to be accepted into the practicum, which begins this July.
“I was shocked,” Tucker said. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to get in because most of the art students who get accepted are graphic design majors and I’m a photography major. But Daniel said he was excited about my design and photography portfolio, and he said I will be able to do some photography for the Blackhawks, as well as some shadowing of their photographers.”
Tucker will begin her practicum experience in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she’ll spend a few weeks working with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, who are the Triple-A affiliate of the MLB’s Minnesota Twins. Afterward, she and the other practicum students will head to Chicago and stay in the dorms at Roosevelt University overseeing the Buckingham Fountain. Tucker will work with the Blackhawks for two weeks, with the practicum experience concluding on July 29.
“All of the students will be broken into project teams and receive challenges from the Blackhawks executives in marketing, digital content sales, community relations and other areas,” Tucker said. “Each team will work together to perform research, develop recommendations and make a final presentation to Blackhawks executives that allow them to achieve their business objectives. As a design and photography student, I’ll be working to create a visual booklet of my team’s research and business strategies to present to the executives.”
Tucker will be graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography after originally arriving at the University of Iowa as a microbiology major. She said her mother, who’s a graphic designer, has been a huge inspiration and motivator for her photography career.
Tucker, who grew up in Byron and was a two-time IHSA State Championship qualifier in shot put for the track and field team, said she chose Iowa over Purdue and Illinois because of the university’s proximity to her family as well as its medical and arts programs.
“I always wanted to go to a Big Ten school,” Tucker said. “Iowa has a great medical program, which was what I wanted to do initially, but luckily the university has an amazing arts program as well… I loved the Byron High School track and field program. Coach [Scott] McMullen made a lasting impact on me. He always pushed me to work harder and believe in myself.”