Five students have won prizes in the beCAUS diversity photo competition, an initiative of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies Diversity Committee.

The competition was conducted on Facebook and was open to all students of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies in celebration of diversity and inclusive excellence at Virginia Tech. View all 139 photo submissions.

The first place image was created by Kate Mazza of Northport, N.Y., a second-year interior design student. Mazza’s photo features a collage of faces. About this image, one of the competition judges noted, “Celebrates uniqueness and diversity … intriguing to dissect and holds my attention. [It’s] positive, fun, and creative.” Mazza receives a prize of $500 for her first-place submission.

The second place image was created by Billy Stoffel of Riner, Va., a third-year building construction student. Stoffel’s image of faces blended with a section of Hokie Stone is captioned, “Shapes, Sizes, and Colors: Much like the Hokie Stones that adorn our campus, we're all different. We're different shapes, different sizes, and different colors. It's these differences that fill our campus with thousands of individuals, but it's when we come together that something beautiful is created.” Stoffel receives a $300 prize for his second-place submission.

The third place image was created by Jessie Gemmer of Richmond, Va., third-year architecture student. Gemmer’s photo is best described by a judge’s comments: “Love this shot. Unexpected and unique. Diversity meets enthusiasm. Positive and uplifting. Different people, different backgrounds, but sharing a commonality in their black clothing. Metaphorical image.” Gemmer’s caption is “The members of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies express infinite individuality. No matter what labels or stereotypes, the people who make up our school will always break boundaries and limits, will always stand out in a crowd and express themselves. This picture was meant to show that no matter our appearances, we are all different, and wonderful because of it.” Gemmer receives a $200 prize for her third-place submission.

Two honorable mentions were also selected: a blended image on Hokie Stone by fifth-year architecture student Drew Hittie of Friedens, Penn., and a residence hall door decoration image by first-year industrial design student Zack Filbert of Bandung, Indonesia.

The competition aimed further Virginia Tech’s mission regarding diversity in terms of race and ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, communities with special needs in society, and communities with historically restricted economic means.

The judges for the competition were Rebecca Landau, a fifth-year architecture student from Oak Hill, Va.; Ray Plaza, manager special projects coordinator, Academic Support Services, of Christiansburg; Ben Hannam, assistant professor of visual communication design, of Blacksburg; Helene Renard, associate professor of interior design, of Blacksburg; and Heather Riley Chadwick, College of Architecture and Urban Studies Communications Manager, of Blacksburg. The competition was sponsored by the university’s Office for Equity and Inclusion, Academic Support Services, the Office of College of Architecture and Urban Studies Dean, and the College of Architecture and Urban Studies Diversity Committee.

All submissions are now part of an exhibition that will be presented in multiple venues this spring.

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