10 Questions for our alumni
Sarah Brockett, BFA, Studio Art (Graphic Design), 2014
1 - Why did you choose to attend Grand Valley?
Many universities place their design programs in the business school. However, receiving a more traditional art education was important to me. I wanted to ensure I had a solid art foundation before I dove deeper into graphic design. I also wanted to receive a liberal arts education, so I had the opportunity to study areas outside of art. GVSU’s design program fit the bill.
2 - How or why did you choose your major or main emphasis area?
I had always been an art kid. The problem solving involved in graphic design is what drew me into that specific emphasis. I love turning an ambiguous landscape into a creative solution.
3 - What advice do you have for future students thinking about colleges?
If you know what you want to major in, compare schools based on that major.
Consider location as well. It might only be a handful of years of your life, but that can seem like an eternity if you’re living somewhere you do not enjoy.
Also, don’t underestimate a liberal arts education! You’d be surprised how much applicable information you can learn when studying fields outside of your direct major or career path.
4 - What advice do you have for current students thinking about careers?
When trying to determine what type of career to pursue, I recommend
thinking critically about what you do and do not enjoy doing. For
example, do you love tedious work, or are you more interested in
big-picture thinking? Do you want to be interacting with people
constantly? Answering questions like this can help you narrow down
what you will and will not enjoy doing for 40 hours each week.
It’s also okay to not know exactly what you want to do! Your career will evolve over time, so even if you end up not loving what you do right out of college, you’ll have the rest of your life to get where you’d like to be.
5 - What did you do after graduating?
After graduation, I worked at full-service marketing agencies. I was
able to wear many hats and work on many different types of projects,
such as: branding, packaging, UX and UI design, creative direction,
interior design, etc.
I also worked as a freelance designer and illustrator in my own time.
6 - What are you doing now?
Today, I work at Atomic Object as a Software Designer &
Consultant. I design custom software, in a variety of industries. I’ve
worked on apps for truck drivers, educators, nurses, and even for
folks suffering from chronic pain. I get to work on the entire array
of “software design,” including: user research, information
architecture, user experience design, user interface design, usability
Outside of work, I am an aerialist and an equestrian. I teach lyra (aerial hoop), and practice dressage with my horse, Luna.
7 - How have you used the skills you developed in your field of study in your life and/or career after GVSU?
I still utilize the design principles and art foundation I learned at
GVSU on a daily basis when it comes to the visual design aspect of
I also use the presentation and critiquing skills I learned when interacting with customers, and working collaboratively to create the best solution for their problem.
8 - What is the best advice you got from an instructor at Grand Valley?
“Presenting and selling your work well is just as important as the
work itself being good.”
This is incredibly true when it comes to consulting. If you cannot eloquently explain why your solution is the best approach, it will not be chosen—even if it seems obvious to you that it is the right solution.
9 - What is your favorite memory of being a student at Grand Valley?
My graphic design class’s senior show was a great memory. It was such an epic culmination of our collective careers at GVSU. We put our heart and soul into it, and it truly paid off. I was so proud of our entire group.
Anything else you would like to share with our Visual and Media Arts Community?
Keep on keeping on! College can be draining, especially as an artist, but it is so worth it in the end. Oh, and soak up all the studio time you can get! You’ll miss it when you don’t have it anymore.
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