Creative Collaboration

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This story is featured in the Fall 2018 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below one example of how HPU provides experiential learning opportunities to students.


Employers look for college graduates with real-world experiences, and that is never hard to achieve at High Point University.

Here, faculty and staff ensure all four years are filled with experiential and interdisciplinary learning opportunities.

Allan Beaver, HPU’s Graphic Designer in Residence who has years of executive experience in the advertising industry, and John Mims, assistant professor of communication, are two professors who create opportunities for students to work across academic disciplines.

Both created experiential learning courses that allow students to run their own agencies. Together, their students join forces to build campaigns and materials for local businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Beaver mentored his graphic design students through the process of building Dime Design, a student-run graphic design agency.

“This course was designed to create a real-world experience for students,” says Beaver. “Just like a real design agency, every student focused on different aspects of the projects and each had their own role in the agency. I was there to give them advice and suggestions as their mentor, but I never gave them assignments. It was their job to keep the agency going.”

Their clients included United Apparel, North Carolina African Services Coalition, The Guild of Family Service of High Point, Women in Motion, Genesis Gospel Choir, Humane Society of the Piedmont and more.

Mims’ strategic communication students created Ascension 336, a student-run public relations agency.

On their client list are Appalachian Hardwood, Heal Our Heroes, Reading Connections, West End Ministries and more. Creative Collaboration_Story Graphic3

“This experience allows students to learn how to communicate with clients and meet their needs in a supportive environment that helps them grow as professionals,” said Mims.

Dr. Virginia McDermott, interim dean of the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication and professor of communication, knows it’s important for students to connect with peers outside their field while they’re still in college. 

“In the communication field, stories are really important, and students need to have something to talk about in
their stories,” said McDermott. “This is why we stress interdisciplinary learning. The more someone knows about a variety of topics and areas, the better prepared they are for the complex media world.”

As a result, the two agencies meshed well together. Although different, their skill sets complemented one another.

The students at Ascension 336 had plenty of knowledge on how to create communication strategies and messaging materials like brochures for clients, but what they lacked was a natural eye for design. Dime Design brought those skills to the table.

That led Ascension 336 to ask Dime Design to revamp its logo. The two teams have since worked on dozens of projects together.

Olivia Blandford, one of the two CEOs of Dime Design, was able to gain real-world experiences by working on a variety of projects for clients. 

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“We had a really wide range of projects that we worked on from Facebook profiles and banners, to branding with logo design, to T-shirt designs and posters,” says Blandford. “We took away a lot of real-world design experience from running this agency.”

In addition, working together allowed students from both agencies to see how their position interacts with and affects their relationship with their peers.

Experiences like these are important because professors guide students so that they can learn from their failures and use them to improve their professional skill set. Another bene t is receiving a variety of feedback and advice from peers and mentors who have diverse viewpoints on

group projects — just like they will in an agency setting when they launch their careers.

Kayla Gigandet, who served as a designer on the Dime Design team, learned new life skills from this experience such as how to meet a client’s needs, how to plan a project and how to effectively communicate with clients.

“All the interaction between the client on and off campus was done by us,” said Gigandet. “Then they would come in and present to us the problem they wanted us to solve using our design expertise. It was definitely a real-world experience learning how to plan projects and learning to work effectively with clients.”

 

 

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