Last year last semester last week

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This picture is from the first classroom I stepped in at ACAD. It’s the visual communications room for my Design fundamentals class. My teacher was Karl Geist  and he introduced me to the school. I remember he asked me what I was interested in and I said Swiss design. I was completely unaware of any design history or what that actually meant; at that point I was just basing everything I knew about design off some posters I had seen on the web. I sat underneath the windows and light would pour in from outside. I started my education at ACAD in that room. And last week, four years later when I finished my final critique, I walked into that room and sat down to think. I thought about where I was in the beginning and where I am now.

The last week of the semester was spent presenting projects, working on portfolios and preparing things for the portfolio show. It was hectic and there were late nights but what encouraged me to keep going was knowing that everyone else in the program was going through the same thing. We all had the same late nights, the same anxieties and the same excitement.

It’s funny how I still remember some of the first interactions with then-strangers who I now call friends. Most were inevitable introductions in a program size of only 60 and most were shared smiles or laughter and then an exchange of names. But some of those first interactions persist in memory. I first talked to Laura Sand in an introductory jewelry class. When I first saw Justine Anweiler I unknowingly gave her a look that she later told me was filled with disapproval. Nikki Stephens sat behind me in that Design fundamentals class. I smiled at Kelsey Hughes when I dropped off my application portfolio for second year. One of the first conversations I had with Chris Turner was about the laser cutter at his work. I remember being intimidated by Nick Johnson’s skill in a design drawing class. Laura Russell sat across from me in communications design when we were drawing logos based on flowers. Allison Swertz came up to me in Concepts class and complimented me on a project about road signs. Ryder McLean sat beside me in almost all of my second year classes and I first talked to Jun Ren in information design when he told me all the places he had lived around the world.

These people I’ve been with for four years have shaped me and enlightened me and taught me things I never would’ve learned by myself. One of my teachers said this group of people is the strongest support network I’ll ever have. I believe him.

I've learned more than I ever expected to in these last four years. I've taken a jewelry class where I made necklaces and rings. I’ve taken a printing class where I tried linocut, screen printing and photo intaglio. There were art history classes that brought us back to the paintings in the Lascaux Caves. And then there was my design education: craft, typography, advertising, branding, illustrations and presentations.

I feel fortunate to have studied under such smart and caring teachers. They challenged me and supported me and made me a capital-D Designer. They did more than that though; they made me a better person. They taught me empathy and understanding. Teaching is a noble profession and I have a deep respect for what they do.

I can’t agree with anyone who says the four years went quickly. It was long and it’s getting harder for me to remember what it was like before my time at ACAD. I have a relationship with the building and the people there and while there is relief and excitement about being finished I’m sad that my time as a student there is done. The growth I experienced at the college was unlike any other in my life.

Here’s to the amazing time, people and memories.