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Journalism major honored by White House News Photographers Association

Senior Al Drago won top honors in the association's 2015 "Eyes of History" contest and will travel to Washington, D.C., in May for a black-tie gala.

Photo by Al Drago for the Baltimore Sun: Dr. Susan Myers places a rose on the casket of her husband, Major General Harold J. Greene of the U.S. Army as her son, 1st Lt. Matthew Greene consoles her during Greene's burial at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on August 14, 2014.
Photo by Al Drago: Nortfolk State's Fiona Massai comes out of the water during the 3,000 meter Steeplechase during the 2014 MEAC Outdoor Championships on Saturday at the Irwin Belk Track on the campus of North Carolina A&T. Massai placed first in the event, finishing in 11 minutes, 25.78 seconds, helping bring the Spartans to a third place finish.
Photo by Al Drago: Cpl. Cody Stanton is all smiles as he puts on his old beret outside of his new house in Holly Springs, N.C., on Thursday, June 27, 2013. "It found its way back home," said fellow soldier Lt. Jason Hollenbuch. Stanton received the new 5-bedroom house as a part of Operation: Coming Home V.
Photo by Al Drago: Nate Feldman, 17, from Old Bridge, New Jersey, is all smiles as he is stuck in a group hug at Base Camp Foxtrot at the 2013 National Scout Jamboree on Sunday, July 21, 2013.

An Elon University senior has been named student photographer of the year by the most prominent organizations for photojournalists in the nation’s capital.

The White House News Photographers Association honored Elon University senior Al Drago this month as part of its 2015 “Eyes of History” student still photography contest.

Drago is invited to attend the association’s annual “Eyes of History” gala in May at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C. The annual black-tie event draws nearly 1,000 guests, including government dignitaries and industry celebrities.

“I was shocked and honored that I was awarded this,” Drago said. “It’s very cool to be not completely on the same level, but in the same realm, as these photographers I’ve admired for years.”

The journalism major from Durham, N.C., was selected following a public judging, hosted at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. The contest’s judges were Matt McClain, a staff photographer with The Washington Post; Allison Shelley, an independent documentary photographer and multimedia journalist; and Brendan Smialowski, a photojournalist based in Washington, D.C.

The chief photographer for "Elon Local News" and former photo editor for The Pendulum, Drago has gained several accolades in recent years. The National Press Photographers Association, Society of Professional Journalists, and North Carolina Press Photographer Association have all recognized his work.  

Drago has interned at several newspapers, including The Baltimore Sun, the (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer, The (Durham, N.C.) Herald-Sun and the (Burlington, N.C.) Times-News.

“One single photograph can tell an entire story,” he said of his passion for photojournalism. “A photo stands the test of time, to be hung on a wall as something you can see at any point.”

The WHNPA is a nearly century-old nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the efforts of Washington’s professional photojournalists. The WHNPA aims to provide professional and educational outreach to its members and the community through scholarships, programming, an annual competition and a celebration of the industry at its annual gala.

Eric Townsend,
2/10/2015 12:30 PM