This spring, Christina Cyprien, a student in professor of practice Maggie Steber’s photojournalism course, documented the life of Ashlee Etienne, a military mom. The photo essay captures touching moments of the daily struggles and triumphs of a military family.

Cyprien’s work is an excellent example of how students learn and grow as visual storytellers at the School of Communication, Steber says.

Cyprien writes:

“As a daughter raised in a single-parent household by my mother who took care of five children practically on her own, I’ve come to admire and respect the major responsibility of those mothers who raise their kids without a father in the household. My original plan was to photograph a day in the life of a single mother; but instead I stumbled upon a unique opportunity to document a military mother, Ashlee, who is raising her 6-month-old daughter, Sadie, while her husband is thousands of miles away.

Though her husband is supportive and actively involved in his daughter’s life as much as he can be, Ashlee still faces similar challenges of a single mother. Ashlee deals with the challenges of taking care of Sadie by herself and also struggles with the loneliness of being without her partner. 

My goal in this final essay was to capture the highs and lows of being a military mother in order to see the whole picture of their daily lives. These pictures will consist of typical mommy responsibilities, such as bath time and play time with Sadie, to late nights when Sadie won’t sleep and the hard days when Ashlee is missing her husband.

This assignment has taught me that the life of a military mother is not easy, and in many ways, they face similar struggles to those of a single mother. For this reason, military mothers are also to be respected and honored for what they do.”