CMU photojournalism student captures wildlife in Alaska

Summer internship at Denali National Park pushed student out of comfort zone
Denali National Park and Preserve

As a young girl, Charlotte Bodak of Grand Marais would flip through her parents’ photo albums, captivated by the way a photo told a story.

“I would look at the photos of my parents out in the Western U.S. and photos of other traveling adventures and think, ‘I want to be a photographer,’” she said. “Each photo speaks for itself. That’s what inspired me.”

About 15 years later, Bodak followed her dream and spent the summer capturing wildlife as an intern at Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve. She lived in a cabin in the park with no running water.

Bodak shot photos and videos of nature, animals and people roaming the six million acres of wild land.

“It was breathtaking,” she said. “Even after I was done working for the day I would go hiking on my own and take photos of the light hitting the snow-covered tops of Mount McKinley.”

Journalism faculty member Kent Miller recruits students to intern at Denali National Park through the Student Conservation Association, a nonprofit group in the U.S. that works to build the next generation of conservation leaders by engaging young people through service opportunities, outdoor skills and leadership training. Bodak is the fifth CMU student to intern at Denali National Park.

Her favorite assignment was a video project on Nikolai, a remote village with a population of about 100 people. She lived in its school for a week and created a video about a fishing wheel they use to catch fish.

“Most of all, the experience pushed me out of my comfort zone,” Bodak said, who comes from a photojournalism background, previously taking photos for Central Michigan Life. “Now that I have the communications and public relations side of things under my belt, I feel like I will be more marketable for my future career.”

The photos and videos she shot were featured on Denali National Park’s social media outlets and website archives.

She hopes to take photos for a nonprofit or newspaper after she graduates in December.

Media Contacts

Rachel Esterline Perkins

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