Ericka Wins New York Times Photojournalism Challenge

By Ericka, Treehouse Graduation Success Student

This summer, I had the opportunity to travel to New York City and attend The School of The New York Times. After living in the city, I fell in love and can’t wait to go back and photograph more.

I found out about this program through the internet and applied not knowing the opportunities it would create for me. Once I was accepted, I did not know how I would pay for it all. I created a GoFundMe, and started reaching out to the people and resources I know.

Because of this, my whole trip was paid for. I had assistance from friends, family, Treehouse, Mike McCready (who I met through Treehouse) and other organizations.

I lived in the city for three weeks, and they were the best three weeks of my life. I studied photography, creative writing and theater. I got to take photos at Central Park and Coney Island, go to Broadway shows, explore the city and write an article about one of my favorite NYC artists, Keith Haring.

The school had a Photojournalism Challenge for each term and an Overall Challenge, where the two grand prize winners get their image in the Sunday national printed edition of The New York Times.

An image I took of a man sitting on a bench with his tennis balls on the boardwalk of Coney Island won fourth place in my Term Photojournalism Challenge and was later announced as the 2019 NYC Photojournalism Challenge Winner.

My image was published in the Sunday edition, and seeing my work printed in the biggest newspaper was unreal. There were more than 4,000 images submitted, and only two—one from NYC and one from their Washington, D.C. program—got selected.

I am so thankful for this opportunity and the people who worked with me to make it all possible.

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About the Author

Ericka is one of more than 8,000 youth that Treehouse partners with each year.

Comments (5)

Margaret Velte

November 20, 2019

It is amazing, exciting and hopeful whenever a young person achieves great success. When it is a young person who has faced struggle and need growing up, we always look for what helped them get there, inner strength, talent, family support, community support, opportunity. Treehouse is huge for so many foster children, fostering their education, transitions, comfort.

Ericka, you are an amazing and strong person. Go far.


Lani McCarry

November 20, 2019

Dear Ericka:

CONGRATULATIONS!! This is wonderful news and a testament to all your hard work. Even though I live in Sequim, I was born in Brooklyn, New York where our writer daughter now lives. I totally get what you are saying and wish you much good fortune in working toward your dreams. You go girl!!


Lani McCarry
Sequim, Washington


carolyn berg

November 20, 2019

You go, girl!! Congratulations and may the Force continue to be with you!


Diana Hoven

November 20, 2019

Congratulations Ericka,

As a long time supporter of Treehouse it is always gratifying to hear success stories such as yours. You have had a bundle of wonderful experiences surrounding this award. Keep at it! Don’t lose the momentum this experience has generated. Keep track of the new people you meet and those who help you along the way. Networking can be one of the most valuable resources one can accumulate.
I wish you lots more successes in your future.


Audrey Seale

May 21, 2020

I saw this & said “hey that’s my girl!” We are joyous supporters of Treehouse & we remember meeting you at Central Cinema, the very night you announced your selection for NYT’s summer intern program. Better yet, I remember seeing the photo at Coney Island in the paper!!! It made that big an impression. Bravo girl! Photos tell stories that only words cannot. Blessings on your journey. May your eye & your camera tell amazing stories of this time, both scary & inspiring. Keep it up. The world needs what you do.


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