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Aimee Shatto and David Bond share a vocational passion and a friendship—all thanks to a man they never met.

Shatto, of Franklin, Indiana, was one of 16 freshmen in the 2007 inaugural class of Ingelhart News Scholars. Bond of Richmond, Indiana, was her student mentor and a photography editor for The Ball State Daily News, where Shatto was a staff photographer.

The scholars were selected for their academic merit and passion for journalism. They take classes together, receive mentoring from leaders in Ball State’s student media, meet with visiting professionals, attend national conferences, and participate in professional news organizations.

Journalism alumni pooled their resources to establish the program in 2007 in honor of the late Louis Ingelhart, who taught at Ball State from 1953 to 1992. The Department of Journalism’s first chair and a national leader in the fight for student press rights died in 2007.

Shatto says the Ingelhart News Scholars “was the deciding factor in my coming to Ball State. We share classes, and we have become great friends. The hands-on learning really has helped me. The work is certainly hard and the professors are intense, but this has been a great experience filled with special opportunities.”

Shatto has wanted to be a photojournalist for years, in part because of a professional who mentored her. She also developed a friendship with Bond after months of meeting at least three times a week.

“David is one of the most influential people in my life at the moment,” she says. “He’s an incredible photographer, although he’ll never admit to it, and he is always willing to help me. He’s helped me to train my talent to produce work that I can be proud of.”

Bond says his mentoring continued a tradition that he experienced as a freshman. “I was flattered that they asked me to be a mentor,” he says. “One reason I agreed to do it was the influence of Will Vragovic, a photojournalism major who recently graduated. His ability to not accept anything but the best from me really helped me grow and mature as a photographer. As a mentor, I provided that same kind of help for Aimee. Honest criticism is important to improving in any field, particularly an incredibly competitive one like photojournalism.”