After photographing the highly visible world of rock concerts, Jessica Fairchild Conrad ’10 has shifted her focus to helping invisible children in Uganda. It’s the second time her life has taken an unexpected direction. She turned to photography initially when an injury ended her competitive swimming career. Not only did she discover a latent talent, but she got caught up in the excitement of covering concerts.
Then she saw “Night Commuters” at Westmont, a presentation that depicted the plight of Ugandan youth forced to flee service as child soldiers in a brutal civil war. Appalled by what she learned, Jessica agreed to volunteer for Invisible Children, an organization that seeks to protect and assist these traumatized youngsters.
Her first task was photographing a nationwide project, Displace Me. In a number of cities, people chose to sleep on cardboard boxes to make a statement to their communities and local politicians. She attended the event at the Los Angeles Fairgrounds and created a photo essay chronicling the night and the people who took part.
Since then, Jessica, a sophomore with a double major in art and communication studies, has formed a strong bond with the San Diego-based organization. She spends many weekends volunteering, keeping a photo record of IC activities. This summer, she hopes to serve as a photographer in Uganda, spending three months working with IC staff and teaching photography to some local children. After she graduates from college, Jessica plans to join Invisible Children full time and work to end a war being waged by children. “I want to use the vision the Lord has given me and take pictures that inspire people to action,” she says.
While at Westmont, Jessica finds opportunities to hone her photography skills. As the photo editor for The Horizon, the student newspaper, she manages seven student photographers and selects the images used each week. She also works for Brad Elliott, Westmont’s staff photographer. “Jessica has a talent I rarely see in students,” he says. “On top of that she has the drive and passion to perfect her skills.”
Jessica was born and raised in Santa Barbara, and her father, Doug Conrad, works in Westmont’s information technology department. Some of her photos of Homecoming appear on page 11 of this issue.