New Brighton photographer and friend offer senior portrait scholarship

Jenn Bouchey and Maricris Treuenfels
Jenn Bouchey and Maricris Treuenfels

“I’ve never heard of a senior photo scholarship before,” said Jenn Bouchey, sitting at photographer Maricris Treuenfels’ dining room table on a recent afternoon at her New Brighton home.

The two are trying to get the word out about just that—the Senior Photo Scholarship they teamed up to create—working to get past the novelty of the idea.

The idea to help high school juniors have portraits taken before graduation, give them prints of those portraits and to generally make them feel good, comes from both Treuenfels and Bouchey’s experiences with poverty earlier in life and how it affected them.

On scholarships

Treuenfels is an advocate of scholarships. She grew up in Pangasinan Province in the Philippines, a place about six hours north of Manila, and says she grew up poor.

When she was 8 years old, she says her father was killed by her uncle.

“It was hard; my mother had to do it all on her own,” Treuenfels says of her mother raising four children as a single parent. “But she did it.”

Treuenfels describes herself as a “smart kid” who studied hard to graduate secondary school with “flying colors.” When it came to college, however, which Treuenfels saw as means to a better life, she needed some help.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education with, as she puts it, “scholarships and the generosity of other people.” She went on to earn a master’s degree in English, and taught in the Philippines and China before getting married and moving to the United States in 2005.

Treuenfels says photography, and by extension, her business, MC Photography LLC., empowers her and is a means of expression.

“[Photography] is something for me, I’m doing it for myself,” she says. “I felt like I had a voice.”

Treuenfels “started from scratch” with her photography studies, leaning hard on YouTube tutorials and teaching herself.

“The more people say don’t do it, the more I want to,” she says, describing herself as someone who is likely to “jump first off the plane, then check for a parachute.”

“I love to learn, I thrive on that,” Treuenfels says.

On photos

Bouchey is an advocate for portraits. She grew up in Denver, is the oldest of eight children and says she grew up “kind of poor...and it was hard.”

She says her father traveled constantly for business and that her mother wasn’t around because of mental issues.

“The kids kind of fended for themselves,” Bouchey says.

Through high school, Bouchey says she was largely on her own, signing up for classes and activities like volleyball and marching band without the assistance of her parents, financing her pursuits with babysitting money.

“[Nobody] once came to any of the games or the events,” she says.

“Then it got to senior year, and there was no money for senior pictures, and everybody else handed out all their They had boxes of them,” Bouchey says.

Bouchey says she improvised, shooting six or eight photos on a 35mm camera that she later had printed, and she handed those out to close friends.

“It was kind of the icing on the cake for my whole high school experience,” Bouchey says. “It was not a great experience.”

Pet projects and dreams

Treuenfels and Bouchey say they first met at their daughters’ ballet class, and then about a year later, they reconnected at church and forged a friendship.

Bouchey says the two would talk about their “pet projects and dreams, and how we want to make the world better.”

The idea for the senior photo scholarship came to Bouchey, in part because she was moved by Treuenfels’ photography, and through her experience of missing out on the portraits as a teenager.

“If you have something to give, you should give it,” Bouchey says.

Treuenfels was all for the idea.

Following the launch of the scholarship earlier this year, two application deadlines passed with no applicants, Treuenfels says, adding that she’d tried to get the word out at Irondale High School and through Southern Anoka Community Assistance.

The two have renewed calls for applications, from current high school juniors, open to both boys and girls.

“We want to provide the opportunity to as many people as possible,” Bouchey says, noting they’d previously only targeted girls for the scholarship.

Like any scholarship, applicants will need to meet certain qualifications, and be in need of the help.

“I earned mine, I worked hard,” Treuenfels says of her scholarship experience.

While Treuenfels styles and shoots the photos for the scholarship, Bouchey acts as a sponsor of the program. The scholarship includes a lunch with the two, as well as prints of the photographs, important, because as Treuenfels says, “nobody prints anymore.”

The two say they’d welcome more sponsors of the scholarship, with businesses and churches in mind, and say they would do their best to promote any takers via social media and the like.

Treuenfels says the scholarship, in total, is worth about $1,150.

“It feels good,” Treuenfels says of boosting someone’s self esteem with portraits. “I would like to gift them with beautiful images.”

Bouchey says she’s been through Treuenfels’ portrait process, and says being in front of the camera like that is quite an experience.

“It’s hard [to go all in] at first,” Bouchey says. “Then oh my God, it’s so cool.”

To apply for the Senior Photo Scholarship, visit

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at or 651-748-7824. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.

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