Alexia Kathryn Tsairis was a junior at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and had spent the fall of 1988 semester in London, England, studying photojournalism. Professor David Sutherland, her advisor in London, commented that, "The photography program, composed of professors and peers, had selected her as the most talented and promising photographer in the group. She had the best, most well-rounded documentary presentations and also achieved the highest grades among the photography students in the international program." In the 1988 student competition, she had the distinction of being the only entrant to receive two awards. Alexia had already spent two summers working in the Graphic and Photo Departments of the Associated Press. Even before graduation, her promising career was under way.
On a cold and blustery Syracuse day in 1989, three people sat in the student chairs of an empty classroom at the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. In a few hours, in that room, those three people gave life to a lost photographer's legacy through The Alexia Foundation for World Peace. Peter Tsairis and Aphrodite Thevos Tsairis, the parents of Alexia and founders, and David Sutherland, Syracuse photography professor and mentor, established the Foundation with the abiding belief in the capacity and responsibility of individuals to shape and advance peace in our time. It is dedicated to providing the means for photographers to do so.
Since that day, undergraduate photographers and professionals have received funding to study in London and produce a body of work that The Alexia Foundation for World Peace believes will help our society develop a greater compassion for all the world's citizens.
Alexia Tsairis was 20 years old when her life was snuffed out by a terrorist's bomb. Knowing this, the Alexia Scholars have accepted their grants with bittersweet humility and an avowed commitment to effect change.
The Alexia Foundation has touched and been touched by kindred spirited photographers shooting images around the globe from China to Montana, from Chechnya to South Carolina, from Kenya to Palestine. "The Alexia," as the competition is referred to, gives voice to the quest for important social documentary photojournalism. That was the mission of those three people.
In addition to her parents, Alexia is survived by a brother, George Alex, and a sister, Ariadne.
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