Recognizing Excellence: Pete Souza learned to be a photojournalist at K-State

Posted February 20, 2019

Editor's note: This is part two of a three-part series recognizing K-State alumni excellence. Read part one here and part three here.

Pete Souza '06, a renowned photographer, came to Kansas State University as a graduate student in the late 1970s. He'd never been west of the Mississippi River. His friends told him he was crazy, but he took a leap of faith, loaded up his Volvo and drove to Manhattan.

This trip set him up for a lasting career in photography.

Souza is most well-known for his work as the chief official White House photographer for former President Barack Obama and director of the White House Photo Office. He also was the official White House photographer for former President Ronald Reagan.

You can see his photos from his time in the White House on display at the Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art now until April 27. 

"One of the things that happens as you get older is you think about all the different paths and turns that you took in your life and it all comes back to this place," Souza said. "I feel that I learned to become a photojournalist at K-State because of the experience at the Collegian more than anything."

Souza would leave K-State before finishing his master's degree to take jobs at The Hutchinson News and Chanute Tribune. But the experiences he had covering stories across Kansas have stayed with him. He would later earn his degree in 2006 and speak at the commencement ceremony that year.

In 2017, Souza was named the inaugural recipient of the K-State Alumni Association's Alumni Excellence Award. The award recognizes an alumna or alumnus of Kansas State University whose career, service and achievements exemplify the spirit, values and excellence of the university. It is made possible by the generosity of the Curt '73 and Sherry '73 Frasier family of Beloit, Kansas.

Our alumni have done outstanding things. They have gone on to be leaders in industry, science, agriculture, politics and more. The K-State Alumni Association wants to honor the achievements, accomplishments and contributions our alumni have given to society as a whole.

We're looking to find the next Alumni Excellence Award recipient.

Anyone can submit a nomination. The criteria for consideration is available online.