By Ashlee Larrison
GCU News Bureau
The halls of Grand Canyon University’s College of Fine Arts and Production transformed into an homage to its soon-to-be digital design graduates Tuesday night as seniors shared a culmination of their work at this semester's Senior Design Showcase. Family, friends, faculty and even a few curious industry recruiters stopped by seniors’ tables and were introduced to just some of the talent entering the field.
Thirty-three animation design, web design, and advertising and graphic design students were tasked with creating tables that showcased their work through professional documentation such as their portfolio, resumé, business cards and anything else that represented them and the work that they completed throughout their time at GCU. It is an event that takes place at the conclusion of every semester but is one that each group of graduating students makes their own.
One thing that Sheila Schumacher, Director of the Digital Design program, noticed as a recurring theme with 2019 winter design graduates was their desire to take the knowledge that they received at GCU home with them, wherever home may be.
“Noticing that this particular group of students has a desire to go back to their home, the benefit that that will bring us is spreading those alumni across the country in a different way than we had expected,” she said.
For students who plan to plant their roots in Arizona, Schumacher says there is a growing reputation for GCU design graduates in the Valley.
“Our students are good,” Schumacher said. “They go out and they get a job, and people have started asking for GCU students.”
One of those potential employers at the showcase was alumnus Eric Vingerhotes, who works for DBSI inc., a building design company in Chandler.
“I would say based on my experiences here, going through the same program, I appreciate and enjoy the dedication and attention to detail that GCU students have and just the overall focus that they have,” he said.
For senior Sebastian Corredor, who will be graduating with his degree in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Animation, the showcase was the perfect opportunity to prepare for that next step.
“My takeaway is being a professional most of all and knowing how to present yourself,” he said. “Something that we were taught throughout the class is that to get jobs you need to present yourself and talk to people that you don’t know, so I think this event really pushes people to do that.”
Corredor, who grew up in Colombia, developed his love of animation after being inspired by Disney movies. Throughout his time at GCU, he built a portfolio through not only his classwork, but also his time working for GCU TV on its web show “Living as Lopes.” Now he says he’s ready to see what comes next.
Kendra Yoakum, who will be receiving her degree in Digital Design with an Emphasis in Web Design, was a lot more nervous about all the life changes that come with graduating from college, but her experience in the program helped calm her.
“I was a little nervous about it and I was psyching myself out about it, but then I was thinking that there’s always room for improvement,” she said. “No matter how much I’ve changed from my first year doing the design program to now, I’m going to change and progress even more, especially when I’m out in the professional world with other people who have been doing it for a long time. So that put me at ease a little bit.”
Yoakum hopes to use her web design talents in combination with her faith and aspires to design for a ministry after graduation.
For Advertising and Graphic Design seniors Vanessa Herrera and Sara Gosch, the experience stood out as an opportunity for them to reflect on their growth within the program.
“I wish I could go back to my old self and be like ‘Hey, you’re going to get there,’” Herrera said. “Seeing myself going through this entire process and coming out of it, I feel like if I could go back and tell freshman me, ‘You’re not going to be there in two years, you’re not going to be there in four. It’s going to be a whole process of learning every single day, going through the motions, figuring out, talking to people. … It’s going to be a ride.’”
Herrera got her start within COFAP as an animation student before discovering her love for graphic design and switching majors. She hopes to get a job with a startup or charity after graduation.
Gosch has held a total of four internships while at GCU and was offered a job as the Community Events Manager at Gorjana, a jewelry company with locations in California, New York and Arizona.
“The professors here have helped me grow into the designer and the person I am today, and I think that’s a really big part of showing (how well GCU does) at hiring professors,” Gosch said. “Every little thing that has come down to my portfolio is something I’m so proud about, and I remember the feeling of when I picked it up and I was like, ‘This is everything that I’ve learned. This is what I’ve paid for, this is what I’ve invested in and I couldn’t be more proud of that.'”
Jeff Del Nero, an advanced design practicum professor who assisted seniors with their portfolios, said that he too was impressed with how many students in this semester’s graduating class of design seniors already have been exposed to the field. Although its primary purpose is to help prepare students, Del Nero says he views the Senior Showcase as more of a celebration.
“I think it’s a good reflection on their work,” he said. “This is the end of a four-year career that they can reflect on where they were and where they are now, and in a way this is like a party. … Everybody has their table and they spend a couple hours getting to share their work.”
Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 or [email protected]