By Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade

Last January, I joined Columbia College’s Office of Strategic Communications as the college’s photographer. What an exciting, challenging and uplifting year it has been!

I am endlessly inspired by the talented, kind, brilliant students, faculty and staff I have met, and I am awestruck by the beauty of our campus and the people — past and present — who have made it so. I have a unique opportunity to view CC through varied lenses (both literally and figuratively) and I strive to do each setting justice. 

I hope you enjoy this look back at 2022, and I hope it inspires you to welcome the year ahead. 


A quiet, snowy start to 2022 

The 2022 Spring Semester began amid pandemic lockdowns and an arctic blast. Nonetheless, campus sat pretty through it all, awaiting the return of its students and faculty. 

A Scootergraph is seen in the snow in front of St. Clair Hall.

These images are particularly special to me, as they were some of the first landscapes I photographed at CC. Campus was almost entirely empty as I trekked outside with a bag full of camera gear and a Scootergraph. I think it was worth the effort.


Students return to campus


Parker Boone waves to fellow classmates on the first day of return to in-person classes for the 2022 Spring Semester.  

Social Media Manager Andy Oldenburg and I headed out to try and capture the excitement of students returning to campus. This proved to be a challenge, as masking and social distancing were still required indoors, students were sparse, and the weather was gray. This photo was a lucky capture – I like Parker’s wave and friendly expression, the way he is framed between the two light poles in the background, and the way his shadow casts him forward. His green jacket adds good color to the photo as well.  

Ashley Lasiter analyzes samples at the Forensic Science Club’s blood splatter event in Spring 2022.

Early in the semester, I was invited to photograph the Forensic Science Club’s blood spatter event. The above photo stands out to me in particular – I like the wide perspective, the high contrast of Ashley’s gloves and the darkness of the background with the bright paper and colors of her shirt. Plus, the FBI hat was a nice touch!  

Trees bloom in the Missouri Hall courtyard in Spring 2022.

Above is a photo of some of the first blooms of the spring season. I like the combination of pink and brown tones, coupled with the shallow depth of field, which allows for a few of the blooms to stand out. Every time I see it, I am reminded of the beauty and imagination that blooms on CC’s campus each spring.

Some of Spring 2022’s first blooms, daffodils on Bass Commons.
A daffodil soaks in some sun on Bass Commons.

There truly is nothing like springtime at Columbia College. Our grounds crew does an amazing job making everything look beautiful – it’s almost a challenge to capture it all!

Spring campus events

Dr. Kaneshya Lucas, director of Academic Affairs Operations, embraces a friend at Columbia College’s 2022 MLK Awards Breakfast.  

It’s not often that you’re able to just walk into a good picture, and this was one of those lucky, tender moments. I love Dr. Lucas’ smile, and the way the railing in Dorsey Gymnasium leads your eyes to the subjects. The blue and red tones of their shirts nicely contrast the more muted background. 

From left to right, Zoe Davis, Kaylee Brown and Hana Farrington stand during the Science Symposium in Spring 2022. 

An event like this can be a photography challenge, as there are only so many unique photos of students standing next to research displays that you can capture. So I tried to experiment with a variety of compositions. The perspective of this photo in particular stands out to me. I like how the three girls form a line leading to the center of the frame, and the way the three of them are accented by the three lights illuminating the walls in the background.

Aladdin Food Services staff member Erica Hartzell prepares salads for the 2022 Celebration of Philanthropy luncheon.

Whenever possible, I try to capture some “behind-the-scenes” photos of the amazing CC staff that make so many of the events I photograph possible. While setting up for the Celebration of Philanthropy luncheon, I was able to sneak into the conference room and capture a few photos of the salad preparation, and I think it made for some interesting images. I like how the green and white of the salad bowls fills the bottom of the frame and leads up to the person preparing them. The wood paneling on the walls, as well as the lights illuminating the Columbia College logo, add interest and context in the background.  

Jolene Schulz ’61, left, and Carla McFarland are recognized during the 2022 Celebration of Philanthropy luncheon.  

This is another of those “lucky” photos. I like the joyous expressions of Jolene Schulz and Carla McFarland who are standing to be recognized, the clapping hands that fill three corners of the frame, and the Celebration of Philanthropy luncheon screen in the background that gives context to the scene. 

The Ivy Chain Ceremony is one of CC’s oldest traditions and it was an honor to witness it in 2022.

Spring Commencement

A graduate celebrates during Spring 2022 Commencement.

Above is one of those rare photos I knew would be a hit from the moment I snapped it. I like how the graduate rejoices as she exits the stage after receiving her diploma, framed by Professor Dr. Terry Smith on the left and Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Piyusha Singh on the right, who have looks of pride illuminating their faces. The blur of the crowd at the bottom also draws your eyes to the graduate.


Summer events

Columbia College staff members Jason Balance and Justin Burton wave to the crowd during the City of Columbia’s Juneteenth Parade.

Columbia College staff members carry a sign while walking in the City of Columbia’s Juneteenth Parade.

The college was honored to walk in the City of Columbia’s Juneteenth Parade. It was a hot and humid morning at the start of the summer, and I had to run to keep ahead of the crowd while lugging my camera gear, but I hardly noticed. It was an electric and memorable day, and you can see it reflected on the faces of our staff as they marched to honor Black history and culture.  

While students were away for the summer, the Staff Association Advisory Council (SAAC) hosted a carnival for faculty and staff to enjoy.


Fall Semester begins

While I enjoy taking landscapes, my favorite subjects are always the students! The excitement on campus was palpable as CC welcomed students back for the 2022 Fall Semester, and it was a joy to be there to capture it all.

Storm the Gate was yet another of my favorite CC traditions to capture!

CC students, faculty and staff gathered in the student commons on College Colors Day for a group spirit picture. I’ll admit – I was nervous standing up on the second floor of the Atkins-Holman Student Commons, looking down as I worked to arrange the crowd for this photo. The end result was worth the nerves, though! I love the energy and excitement of this photo.  

This fall I was given the opportunity to photograph some of our CC athletic teams. I have a background in sports photography, so it was fun to revisit a subject I am familiar with. We took traditional team group photos and headshots, but we were also able to play around a bit with smaller groups, where we would divide teams up by class year. The above portrait of women’s basketball player Mackenzie Hess is one of my favorites. I like her confident, casual stance, and the way the lights from the ceiling create leading lines through the top third of the image, then reflect off the floor to fill the bottom and middle of the frame. 

Fall events

The Mid-MO Pride Parade was a humid but exciting day, full of color and spirit – more than a camera could capture. Columbia College’s representatives took a group photo with Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe.  

In September, Columbia College President Dr. David Russell and First Lady Lee Russell (pictured together top left) hosted the annual President’s Society dinner, honoring donors and their contributions. It was a lovely event, with thousands of photos captured, but these are some of my favorites. At the very end of the night, students working as event staff for the evening joined donors, faculty and staff on the dance floor, resulting in an epic dance party and some picture-perfect moments.

CC kicked off Homecoming Week with the annual Color Run, which through a combination of perfect lighting and smiling faces made for some unforgettable photos.

Homecoming Week was packed with fun activities and memorable moments. These are some of the highlights.

At the end of Homecoming Week, CC students attended Fall Formal to celebrate the week’s festivities. Admittedly, I was nervous to photograph this event, anticipating the low light and motion of the dance floor would be a challenge. However, I was pleasantly surprised – I was able to bounce my camera flash off the ceiling, which cast a nice, soft light over the crowd, and the colorful lights from the front of the dance floor acted as fill lights, illuminating the attendees, and adding color and interest.

The Jane Froman Singers performed a fall concert at Sacred Heart Catholic church, led by new leaders of the college’s music program, Dr. Bryan Stenson and Emily Edgington Andrews. It was a beautiful concert in a beautiful location.

Fall landscapes

This is one of my all-time favorite landscapes. I like the little sunburst shining through the tree, the way the reddish colors of the leaves tie into the colors of St. Clair Hall in the background, and the way the sidewalk curves to lead your eye to the section of pavement in the sunlight.

Just like spring and summer, the views around CC’s campus this fall did not disappoint. 


Holiday Lighting

Former Columbia College First Lady Mrs. Bonnie Brouder, center, applauds moments before lighting the campus for the holiday season.

Alumni Holiday Party

Scooter and Santa pose for a photo with the horse carriage at the Alumni Holiday Party.

I was pleasantly surprised with the way the above photo turned out – it was dark outside, and I had to rely on my camera flash to light the scene. I was happy to discover that the streetlight reflecting off the pavement in the background, combined with the hazy brown sky, ended up adding a nice depth to the image. 

Nurses’ Pinning

On the eve of 2022 Fall Commencement, nursing graduates received their pins during a special ceremony at Launer Auditorium.

Fall Commencement

This graduate’s celebratory expression as she exited the stage encapsulates the emotion of this special day. She is framed nicely by the Columbia College banner in the background and on either side by President Russell and Rev. Dr. Brad Stagg, chair of the Columbia College Board of Trustees. All of the blues and grays, coupled with the few hints of red, create a nice cohesive feeling to the image.

Here’s to a great 2023!