Panther Prints Photographer Takes Top State Honor

Duncanville High School senior Emily Cruz received the highest honor in this year’s Texas Association of Journalism Educators photo competition.

Judges awarded Emily the Best of the Best for her photograph of a Panthers basketball player celebrating the 2019 UIL 6A State Championship victory. The Best of the Best is the lone photo chosen from superior ratings from photographic categories.

“I was kind of shocked,” Emily said. “But at the same time I was excited and happy because I did so much work and it really paid off.”

Three of Emily’s contest entries received superior ratings in what was the largest TAJE competition in history with more than 1,300 entries: her photography portfolio and two sports action shots including the one that took the top award.

Emily said how basketball player Robert Banks got a bloody nose is a mystery, even to him. No one remembers how it happened. But the image and what it captured is symbolic to her.

“It’s blood sweat and tears - he literally had all that at that moment,” Emily said.

Emily plans to continue studying photography in college. She said she would not have made it this far without her classmates and mentors.

“All my classmates have really helped me and I appreciate them,” Emily said. “I’m happy they were there to be a part of everything with me."