The decision to attend Graceland University was made for Jennifer Craig-Blakeley `02, a member of Community of Christ, when her older sister, Catharine Craig, made Graceland her college of choice a few years earlier. When Craig permanently moved to Iowa following her college graduation, Craig-Blakeley wanted to be closer to her. And since Craig had a great time at Graceland, Craig-Blakeley thought it would be a good idea for her to attend, as well. Craig-Blakeley was a part of Sariah House at Graceland where she met her best friend and has maintained that relationship for 19 years.
Craig-Blakeley found independence at Graceland. From Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, she came to Graceland with no contacts or friends. Scary at first, being 15 hours from family and friends pushed Craig-Blakeley out of the nest and allowed her to develop the independence needed to succeed in life. Surrounded by caring faculty and fellow students made Craig-Blakeley’s transition easy and matured her into the person she is today.
Craig-Blakeley took her first photography class at Graceland in 1999. “I knew as soon as I took my first shot - spent time in the darkroom developing the image and printing it - that photography was my destiny,” Craig-Blakeley remembers. She then took every photography class Graceland had to offer, and by her senior year was the only student with a key to the darkroom, which, at the time was in the basement of Zimmermann Hall. She credits the supportive community atmosphere at Graceland for giving her the confidence to step into adulthood and succeed in business, community and life.
With a desire to major in art and pursue photography, even from a young age, Craig-Blakeley graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology upon a push from her father. She ultimately followed her dreams, but discovers every day that the knowledge she acquired through her studies is useful in her business and personal life. “Connecting with people is what I do for a living. Capturing moving and emotive portraits wouldn’t be possible without the ability to connect with my subjects.”
You can see some of Craig-Blakeley’s portraiture work at www.JenniferBlakeley.com. Her celebrity client list includes:
Donald Trump Jr.
Megan Fox and Brian Green
The Honourable Rob Nicholson