Seniors draw inspiration from Design Showcase
Story by Ashlee Larrison
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau
Before Josiah Brown started college, he pictured himself pursuing a degree in programming.
After all, he loved the rush of working with computers and considered himself tech-savvy.
But when he came to Grand Canyon University, it wasn’t long before he developed a passion for graphic design.
“When I first started, I didn’t know anything about design, and I was nervous because the people I would talk to, who were also in my major, they had taken design classes before in high school and I was just getting into it,” he said. “They really pushed me, and now I feel like I can compete.”
Brown was one of 67 seniors who participated in this semester’s Digital Design Showcase on Wednesday afternoon on the Quad. It was their last event before walking across the Commencement stage Friday. (Here’s a slideshow.)
Like other student presenters, Brown used the event to not only highlight his talents and brand but also his most passionate work.
On the right side of his table was his project for a diabetes management application, and on the left was his application for finding better careers.
“I made them for people in my life to help solve a problem,” he said. “I just wanted to display some pieces that were important to me.”
In the view of Digital Design Director Sheila Schumacher, that drive to make a positive impact is a key characteristic of this graduating class.
“I think they will have a bit more fortitude for change,” she said. “This particular graduating class spent two, almost three semesters in the middle of COVID and, for many of them, it was a jolt.
“We still have a lot of people across the United States who are running ad agencies and studios remotely, so what looked to be ‘Oh my goodness, this is bad,’ has turned out to be a skill that they didn’t expect to get and has benefited many of them.”
And for many of them, that experience only adds to how much versatility they can bring to the workplace, wherever it is.
Emma Skoog, who will graduate with her degree in Graphic Design with an Emphasis in Advertising, wants to use her creativity to positively impact the culinary world.
After graduating from culinary school, Skoog knew she needed to further her education to help pay the bills. Her love of art led her to GCU’s College of Arts and Media, where she has learned artistic expression she can merge with her love of cooking.
Her table, decked out with artsy food photography and donuts, welcomed a multitude of visitors.
“It’s super cool for people to see what I’m passionate about and that I got to have an outlet for that,” she said. “It’s very fulfilling, for sure.”
With graduation on the horizon, many seniors are looking forward to what the future holds for them.
After Commencement, animation major Rebekah Bowidowicz plans to move to Maine and start a career as an orthodontic technician while using her degree for freelance work.
“I just love doing this,” she said of her designs. “It’s been a rocky road from community college to here, but to finally have everything done, it’s so nice.”
Since his first experience as an attendee of a Design Showcase several years ago, advertising major Jared Kraft was eager to get his turn. The opportunity he and his peers have to present their brand as artists is particularly meaningful to him.
“I’m really thankful for this event, just for the pure confidence that I have going out into the real world,” he said. “I know my stuff looks good now, and it’s fun to get a bunch of reviews from different people.”
Nicole Nowakowski, who played a significant role in the student-led advertising agency, Design United, was grateful for the hard work that culminated in this moment.
“I’ve always been a creative person, but I feel that this program really forced me and pushed me to do more than I ever thought I could,” she said. “I feel very ready to go out and get a job, and I’m just so grateful to have the opportunity to do that.”
For those who couldn’t attend the showcase, the students’ work can be viewed here.
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected].