TAI Student Kayla Griffis Speaks About Her Academic Experiences and Achievements

I am a junior majoring in Advertising with a specialization in Digital Media Strategy with minors in Graphic Design and Spanish. I’m also participating in the 4+1 SMU Advertising program that allows me to take undergraduate and graduate classes simultaneously in order to obtain bachelor’s and master’s advertising degrees in five years. During the 2018-2019 academic year, I received the following honors:

  • 2019 Dallas Area Alliance for Women in Media Irene Runnels-Paula McStay College Scholarship
  • 2019 Washington Media Scholars Foundation Media Fellows Scholarship
  • SMU Pi Beta Phi Foundation Scholarship
  • SMU Decima Chapter of Mortar Board National Honors Society
  • Finalist for 2019 AAF Vance and Betty Lee Stickell Internship
  • Finalist for 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Internship Program

I applied for these scholarships, internships, and honors societies at the end of the fall semester and was extremely nervous during the application processes because of the programs’ prestige and competitiveness. Managing deadlines, requesting letters of recommendation from professors and mentors, staying on top of daily homework assignments, and studying for tests was no easy feat. Nevertheless, I was determined to submit my applications, in case I wasn’t accepted as a junior, to refine my skills and experiences before becoming a senior.

When I was first notified that I received the 2019 Washington Media Scholars Foundation Media Fellows Scholarship, I was shocked! I couldn’t believe it until I spoke with a representative of the foundation who told me that my application was impressive and well-received. And while this was surprising, receiving two other scholarships–the 2019 Dallas Area Alliance for Women in Media Irene Runnels-Paula McStay College Scholarship and Pi Beta Phi Foundation at SMU Scholarship–was even more overwhelming. Additionally, qualifying for the 2019 AAF Vance and Betty Lee Stickell Internship and the 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Internship Program were both amazing opportunities, though I ultimately decided to participate in the 4A’s Multicultural Advertising Internship Program because of its focus to promote inclusion and diversity in the advertising industry. I am very passionate about this. My induction into the SMU Decima Chapter of Mortar Board National Honors Society is a privilege in itself and I am grateful to be a part of this organization that recognizes leadership, community service, and scholarship among students. As a 2019 MAIP Fellow, I will work at Digitas in Boston as a Media Buying and Planning intern this upcoming summer and am extremely excited.

SMU Advertising has provided me with amazing opportunities to network with professionals and connect with my peers as we prepare for future careers in the advertising industry. I hope to help foster a world where minorities are celebrated and accurately represented. I believe that I will make a difference in the industry, as a voice for minorities, and receiving these honors is just the beginning.

Replace Your “For Dummies” Collection With THIS Online Learning Resource

SMU Libraries has just started a subscription to O’Reilly’s Learning Platform for Higher Education, that includes e-books, case studies, videos, and Learning Paths.  Topics range from graphic design, software training, leadership, job search, and business strategy.  Here is a sampling of what is available:

UX Design – From Beginner to Professional Learning Path

This learning path is designed to teach you basic and advanced concepts in UX design with the help of real-world use cases on process, design, and techniques.

Careers for Creative People: Design and some real world advice from ridiculously talented individuals doing jobs they love

This book provides a comprehensive list of creative jobs in advertising, career best practices, and advice from experts in their field, helping talented creative people.

The Handbook of International Advertising Research

The handbook’s comprehensive treatment highlights existing knowledge, reports major findings across the subject, and recommends directions and agendas for future research.

Adobe InDesign CC Classroom in a Book (2019 Release)

The 15 project-based step-by-step lessons in this book show users the key techniques for working in InDesign. Designers will build a strong foundation of typographic, color, page layout, and document-construction skills that will enable them to produce a broad range of print and digital publications.

Need help? Want to know more about research or databases for advertising? Contact Megan.

TAI Student Rani Vestal Shares about the Graphic Design Minor

Did you know that you can minor in graphic design at SMU? SMU Advertising offers this minor to provide students with a basic understanding and development of skills necessary for design across all media.

I’m currently a junior and always knew that I wanted a creative career – I just didn’t know what it could be. So when I declared my English major in Dedman College as a sophomore, due to my love of writing and literature, I also considered minoring in other disciplines to figure out what I wanted to do in the real world. When I searched through the latest course catalog, I was most intrigued by the Typography class because I love art and fonts. However, I couldn’t take it because I needed to 1) declare the graphic design minor and 2) take three prerequisite classes. With limited Photoshop and Illustrator experience, I met with Cheryl, declared the minor and enrolled in Creative Production. My minors now include history, Spanish, and graphic design. They surprisingly fuse together nicely.

The graphic design minor is unique because it unites students from a variety of majors including the three advertising tracks, studio art and English. We all have different creative interests from 90s album covers to pop art which manifest in our work. I love the classes when we collectively critique design roughs because my peers’ feedback is always valuable and respectful – this ultimately pushes me to better my deigns. I also find it fascinating that we can be given the same project guidelines and produce utterly different, yet equally compelling, work. After taking the same courses these last few years, we’ve really bonded and come to understand each other’s styles in a small graphic design “cohort.” 

I’ve almost completed the fourth and final prerequisite of the minor, and am eager to begin taking elective courses. However, the prerequisites were valuable and here’s why:

  • Creative Production (ADV 1360)
    This class taught me essential keyboard shortcuts in the Adobe Creative Suite which immediately expedited my design process. Having previously learned the programs by myself, these tricks were seriously ground-breaking and make me feel like a design wizard.

  • Word and Image, Art and Design: 1900-Present (ADV 2323)
    This was also right up my alley because it merges two of my favorite subjects: history and graphic design. I still reference the textbook from this class for inspiration because it streamlines historic design samples from cave art in Lascaux, France to postmodern Pee-wee Herman (my latest rediscovery is Lester Beall).
  • Introduction to Graphic Design (ADV 3323)
    I really enjoyed this course because I finally began integrating my knowledge of software and design into class projects. Seeing my personal work in print for the first time, instead of work for a client, was electrifying. I enjoyed learning color theory and creating packaging design for a Monster 826 coffee company.
  • Typography (3361)
    The course I’ve been waiting for! We hit the ground running this semester and dove into typeface classification, calligraphy and more. So far, I’ve prototyped a bitmap typeface and created album art for an angry Aztec band (Spanish + graphic design unite!). By this point, we’re all sort of “type geeks” and I love that we can identify and criticize typefaces together.

Despite my liberal arts major, the minor has helped me land a few advertising internships. Working at SLANT Partners in Downtown Dallas refined my professional skills because I learned how to gracefully correspond with clients. And the skills I developed through the graphic design classes also allowed me to work on real client projects including the brand development of a local philanthropic bakery. I now intern for the Temerlin Advertising Institute which has helped me meet more SMU Advertising faculty and learn about local networking opportunities. Because of this, I feel more connected to the school and industry alike.

If you’re considering the minor or are already enrolled in related courses, I encourage you to explore personal creative projects just for fun. The time you spend ‘playing’ is when you can really discover and develop your unique creative style. I spend much of my free time developing websites and animating graphics because those opportunities interest me but have not yet presented themselves in my courses. I also believe that I’m happier and more confident in my design skills through personal creative outlets because there’s no client or GPA pressure.

I’m excited to launch my creative career as a graphic designer after I graduate which would not be possible without the knowledge and experience I’ve acquired through the graphic design classes. I hope to work for a creative agency that specializes in digital, branding and packaging design. I’ve also considered freelancing before I eventually open up my own coffee shop… stay tuned.

Click here to learn more about the graphic design minor and course offerings.

Graphic Panel of CD Insert
Branding for Personal Podcast
Magazine Layout for Boaz Commons
Physical Representation of Bitmap Typeface