Photography fuels UMD scholarship fundWhen funding fell through for two students in 2004, University of Minnesota Duluth associate professor of health education Ladona Tornabene thought to herself, “What can I do?”
By: Esther Piszczek , For the Budgeteer News
When funding fell through for two students in 2004, University of Minnesota Duluth associate professor of health education Ladona Tornabene thought to herself, “What can I do?”
One student had organized an internship abroad in New Zealand. When the student’s dream trip fell apart due to a lack of funding, Tornabene was heartbroken.
A few months later, Tornabene learned that a single mother was unable to complete her degree due to finances, with but one- to two semesters left to study. Tornabene wanted to help others avoid the same fate.
With the help of Bob Sherman, director of development in the College of Education and Human Services at UMD, Tornabene created the Professor as Photographer Scholarship Fund that one day will help two health education students each semester fulfill their dreams to attend school or study abroad.
“The scholarship fund was set up to provide money for nontraditional students to study health education, nontraditional being older students or students who are the first to attend college in their family, or for students to gain global competency by working in a diverse world [by interning abroad],” said Sherman.
A self-taught photographer, Tornabene donates the proceeds from the sale of her artwork to the fund, which must hold $25,000 to be considered “fully endowed.” When the endowment level is reached, the revenue from the fund will support the scholarship program.
“She is absolutely driven to help students with her scholarship fund, and I don’t know of any other faculty member who has taken this approach. Her photographs are extraordinary.
She is a nontraditional teacher, and when she sets out to do something there is nothing that will stop her from doing it. I have no doubt she will reach the fully endowed scholarship level of $25,000 here at UMD,” said Sherman.
Tornabene is of Italian descent and a native of Louisiana. After visiting Duluth on a ski vacation in 1999, she dreamed of staring at the Lift Bridge. Shortly thereafter, Tornabene was offered a position at UMD as an associate professor of health education in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Tornabene is also the Community Health Internship Coordinator.
“Being immersed in a different culture changes your life and I want to help people experience that,” said Tornabene.
Tornabene’s father, who was never without a Polaroid camera, exposed his daughter to photography at a young age. After experimenting with photography in high school, Tornabene decided to pursue health education, instead of photography, in college.
Now, her scholarship fund allows her to blend her love of photography with her passion to help students studying health education to pursue their dreams.
“My mission is to help people discover and then empower them to pursue what resonates between heartbeats. It’s using what I love, photography, to do what I love, empower people,” said Tornabene.
In 2007, Tornabene needed one of her photographs framed quickly. Krista Carson, owner of Master Framing Gallery, agreed to take on the last-minute job. When Carson heard Tornabene’s name she said, “Hey, I just framed one of your photos,” and a relationship was born.
The Master Framing Gallery, which recently relocated to London Road from the Kenwood Shopping Plaza, has the exclusive rights to sell Tornabene’s photographs.
“I was really excited that she was working on this scholarship fund and it seemed like a good thing to promote. It isn’t just straightforward photography. She has a really nice eye for it. A lot of people think some of her photos are paintings,” said Carson, who has more than 26 years of framing experience.
The Gallery, which also carries artwork from other local artists, has more than 20 of Tornabene’s framed photographs, as well as unframed prints for sale.
“I want people to be aware that my photography is there and if you need it, it is going to a good cause,” said Tornabene.
Tornabene does not touch up her photographs. Any effects that are created are done “in camera,” making her somewhat of a photography purist.
“I think her work is unique and I am excited to share it with a broader audience through our new location,” said Carson.
The Master Framing Gallery, 1431 London Road in Duluth, is holding its grand opening Jan. 28 through Feb. 2.
A reception will be held 2-7 p.m. on Jan. 30. Tornabene will be available to answer questions about the fund and her photographs 5-7 p.m. on the night of the reception. Tornabene’s artwork is currently on sale.