Award-winning freelance photojournalist Justin Merriman ’00 will present the main address at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg’s 2019 Commencement. The campus’ Commencement ceremony will be held Saturday, April 27, at 11 a.m. on Ridilla Field (inclement weather: Chambers Hall Gymnasium).
Merriman is a visual storyteller and journalist whose quest to cover politics, wars, natural disasters, and civil unrest has taken him across the globe to India, Cuba, Italy, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. He has chronicled the US War on Terror through his coverage of the United 93 crash in Shanksville, PA, on September 11, 2001, to the battlefields in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan.
Merriman has been recognized with numerous awards for his work. The organizations recognizing his work include Pictures of the Year International, Society of Professional Journalists, the National Press Photographers Association, National Headliners Awards, the Society for News Design, the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar, the Northern Short Course, the Southern Short Course, the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the Military Reporters and Editors Association, and the Western Pennsylvania Press Club.
He also is a four-time recipient of the Photographer of the Year award by the News Photographer Association of Greater Pittsburgh, as well as receiving the Keystone Press Awards Distinguished Visual Award (2016) from the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.
“One of Pitt-Greensburg’s key goals is to help our students lead lives of impact,” said Sharon P. Smith, PhD, president of Pitt-Greensburg. “We realize that goal in our alumni, and Justin is one of our outstanding examples of the manifestation of this goal. We look forward to welcoming him back to campus and allowing him to share his experiences with our 2019 graduating class.”
A native of Greensburg, PA, who graduated from Pitt-Greensburg with a BA in English writing, Merriman is a recipient of the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association Alumnus of Distinction Award (2009). When talking about his Pitt-Greensburg student experience, Merriman often references the support that he received from a professor who encouraged Merriman to explore photography as a means of storytelling.
The national and international publications in which Merriman’s work has appeared reads like a list of journalistic who’s who: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Time, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, Vanity Fair, Forbes, and The Guardian. His work has also appeared in Southwestern Pennsylvania publications, such as the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
Merriman is a founding member of American Reportage, a collective of documentary photojournalists specializing in comprehensive storytelling of the American experience, where he focuses on telling stories of communities throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. His work can be viewed at. Additionally, he recently traveled the entire stretch of the US border with Mexico to document the issues of immigration.
An accomplished film maker, he made his debut directing and producing Something like Home: A Duolingo Documentary. This documentary short for the language app Duolingo took Merriman to Turkey and Jordan to interview and film displaced and refugee Syrians on how they use language to transform their lives.
Founded in 1963, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg is a publicly assisted, four-year, liberal arts college in southwestern Pennsylvania. Pitt-Greensburg offers 29 baccalaureate degree programs, including new majors in Nursing and Healthcare Management, as well as 24 minors and five certificate programs. With nearly 1,500 students, more than 10,000 alumni, and faculty and staff numbering more than 200, Pitt-Greensburg provides a vibrant, diverse community that is a dynamic model of a 21st century liberal arts education. As part of the University of Pittsburgh system, Pitt-Greensburg offers the resources of a world-renowned university combined with the individualized and immersive experiences of a small liberal arts college. Creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit permeate the campus and extend into its many collaborative projects with the Westmoreland County community.