Katie Falkenberg '03 has led anything but a routine life in the five years since her graduation from Warren Wilson. A studio art major with a concentration in painting, Katie has enjoyed a remarkable range of experiences since completing her bachelor's degree.
After interning as a photographer with the Asheville Citizen-Times, she lived in Wyoming, in a little place called Shell (pop. 50). There the former farm-crew member worked on a cattle ranch as a wrangler and photographer, chasing cattle on the prairie with cowboy hat on and camera in hand. In the spring of 2004, she turned her attention to branding—not the marketing version, but the real kind involving the spring branding of calves. "It's a dream!" Katie wrote of the job while in Shell.
But wranglers do keep moving, and soon Katie found herself moving from Wyoming to Washington, D.C., to do political photography as an intern with Scripps Howard News Service. Rather than capturing cattle on camera, she started photographing political animals: senators, congressmen and congresswomen, participants at hearings, even President Bush and Iraq Prime Minister Allawi. All minus her cowboy hat, of course. She said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the former vice presidential candidate, was especially gracious when she first arrived in Washington. Katie also took on assignments for Home and Garden magazine.
Later Katie became a freelance photographer still based in Washington, covering the White House and other national news. She freelanced for no less than The Associated Press, European Pressphoto Agency and The New York Times. In 2005, she wrote from the nation's capital: "I am loving freelancing and being able to continue to cover the White House - it is by far my favorite beat - and other news here."
Next came a year in photojournalism graduate school at Ohio University, before she became a staff photographer with The Washington Times in September 2006. Her current position already has taken her to Afghanistan, where she was embedded with the military in Kandahar, and to Pakistan twice. In fact, Katie spent a day on the campaign trail with Benazir Bhutto shortly before Bhutto was assassinated.
"I was so grateful for the experience of meeting her and watching her in action, especially after the tragic event of her assassination," Katie wrote in a recent email after returning to Washington. "So incredibly sad. It will be interesting to see what happens with the country from here on out. I love the country and the people there."
What's next for this Wilson whirlwind who went from the range to the Rose Garden and far beyond? Among other things, she hopes to return to Afghanistan, writing that "it was interesting to experience military life and get an idea of what the soldiers at war there are experiencing." Whatever lies ahead for Katie Falkenberg, it seems safe to say that it won't be boring.