Senior participates in UA workshop

Pelham High School senior Taylor Mathews is a “natural.”

At least, that’s what Meredith Cummings believes.

Cummings, director of the Alabama Scholastic Press Association and Multicultural Journalism Workshop at the University of Alabama, recently worked with Mathews during UA’s 26th year of the MJW.

And although Mathews was the only male in the class of 14, he stood out for a much different reason.

“When these students come to us, some have a lot of experience and some have no experience,” Cummings said. “Taylor was my rock.”

Cummings said she knew within minutes of meeting Mathews that he had a special gift.

“The very first day he was there, I knew he was going places,” Cummings said.

Since Mathews is a photographer and contributor to the Pelham Literary Magazine at PHS, sponsor Connie Nolen recommended he seize the opportunity of attending the MJW.

Nolen, who also teaches creative writing, honors English and is the department chair, said Mathews was the perfect fit for the MJW.

“I think it’s an amazing program and he’s such an amazing photographer,” Nolen said.

During his time at the MJW, Mathews traveled with the group to the Black Belt, where they took photos, interviewed people and gathered information for their stories.

Each student was assigned a story and was asked to take photos and a video, but Mathews did even more.

“He reminds me of a professional because everywhere we went, whether we were working on his story or not, he was taking pictures,” Cummings said.

Mathews’ assignment was an interesting one in that he traveled to Southfresh Catfish Farms in Eutaw, where he wrote a profile of the plant’s catfish taster, Tim Taylor.

The story and the plant, Mathews said, were extremely interesting, especially the aroma of the plant.

“The processing plant did have a strong smell, but it wasn’t too horrible,” Mathews said.

After high school, Mathews plans to attend Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, where he plans to double major in graphic design and photography.

But before he leaves for college, Nolen is hoping Mathews can bring what he learned at the MJW back to PHS.

“He was so talented before he went; I can’t wait to see what all he learned,” Nolen said. “I look forward to him teaching me some things.”