Success by Design: Internship Adds to Graphic Communication Repertoire for New WIU Alumna

Mariah Bartz, a brand new alumna of Western Illinois University, with the Pok?mon Go map she designed for WIU's Macomb campus.

Mariah Bartz, a brand new alumna of Western Illinois University, with the Pok?mon Go map she designed for WIU’s Macomb campus.

What experiences in an internship can help make it “awesome” for a college student?

Just ask Macomb native and brand new Western Illinois University alumna Mariah Bartz. This summer, those of us who work in University Relations had the great pleasure of working with Mariah–she has been in our office every morning since May 24 working to complete a design internship, the final requirement for her bachelor’s degree in graphic communication.

“Working with University Relations allowed me to utilize my skills in a real-world setting. I had to apply many things I had learned in my courses, and this served as both continued practice and as a reminder for the tips and tricks I needed to make something look the way I imagined it to be,” Mariah noted. “During this internship, I designed posters, postcards, birthday cards, advertisements, booklet pages, maps, and a social media directory webpage and a blog directory webpage for Western’s website. I was fortunate to be given such a wide variety of projects during my time there, and it was particularly awesome to get to work both with page layout and web design.”

Throughout much of her time at Western, Mariah has truly embraced the University’s core values of educational opportunity and personal growth and has the projects/creations now under her belt to prove it. Not only has she created a number of real-world projects this summer we’re using in University Relations–e.g., the Pok?mon Go map for campus and she completed a much-needed update to our social media directory–but she also has been doing so since at least 2015 as a Western student.

Mariah with the Rocky statue she was selected to paint the 2015 edition of the Rocky on Parade campaign.

Mariah with the Rocky statue she was selected to paint the 2015 edition of the Rocky on Parade campaign.

In the fall last year, Mariah was selected to design the 2015 holiday card, which features an original watercolor lithograph of Sherman Hall. The card was sent to more than 750 friends of the WIU Foundation. Also in 2015, Mariah was chosen to design and paint the Foundation’s Rocky statue as a part of the 2015 Rocky on Parade campaign. Bartz’s “Molecule Dog,” featuring the chemical symbols for love and happiness, is now situated by the flagpole north of the University Union.

Mariah, who has also had her artwork featured at the Juried Student Exhibition at WIU, the Evanston Art Center (Evanston, IL), and the Figge Art Museum (Davenport, IA), shared a bit more about her background and her experiences at Western below…

Q. Where did you grow up? What are your interests outside of work/school?

Mariah: I grew up here in Macomb, so WIU has been a part of my life for a long time. Outside of work or school, my interests include doing small art projects, playing video games, and watching movies. I am very much a homebody.

Q. What have been some of your most memorable experiences as a student at WIU?

Rocky on Parade statue painted by WIU alumna Mariah Bartz (pictured here with Mariah's aunt, grandmother, and mother) on the north side of the Western Illinois University Union.

The 2015 Rocky on Parade statue painted by WIU alumna Mariah Bartz (pictured here with Mariah’s aunt, grandmother, and mother). The statue is located on the north side of the Western Illinois University Union.

Mariah: The most memorable experience was getting drafted by the WIU Foundation to paint their Rocky sculpture for Rocky on Parade in 2015. It was fun for me to paint it, and now that my “molecule dog” is under the flag post by the Union, it’s fun to see people interact with the dog and take photos of it.

Q. What are your career plans?

Mariah: For the future, I plan to move into a city to get a broader use for my degree, with either printed media or web design. I may also consider continuing my education–if I later feel that it would be a good direction for me to go.

Q. How do you think your studies have prepared you for your career?

Mariah: I feel like many of the courses I took benefitted me greatly, and I had some excellent instruction from a few teachers along the way. There are some good habits I have formed through my advanced design classes that have made me prepared to handle a variety of professional circumstances.

Q. What advice do you have for current and future WIU students?

Mariah: Between my sophomore and junior year, I ended up taking some time off from school. For me, this was a benefit, because I needed to sort of recharge my batteries. When I returned to WIU, I was more motivated and dedicated, and it absolutely paid off then.

If you are a student who feels stressed or pressured, please understand that everyone’s life is different, and that if you want to progress somewhere, you can do so when the time is right for you.

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Although we’re proud that Mariah seemed to enjoy and benefit immensely her time with us here in University Relations this summer, we’re even more proud that she chose Western and she will go forth and represent her alma mater well… yet another WIU Success Story!

#MyWordsMatter at WIU… Nationally syndicated columnist agrees

#MyWordsMatter at Western Illinois University

To raise awareness of the impact of the words we use, a group of WIU graduate students, who were charged with a mission to create a project that would make the world a better place, have created the #MyWordsMatter campaign at WIU.

“To raise awareness of the impact of the words we use, a group of WIU graduate students, who were charged with a mission to create a project that would make the world a better place, have created the #MyWordsMatter campaign at WIU. The campaign, which began last semester, is picking up momentum across campus.” — Western Illinois University

For a Western Illinois University press release in early March, University Relations Director Darcie Shinberger interviewed AJ Lutz, the assistant director of communication and marketing for Western Illinois University Housing and Dining Services, who provided the background of the grassroots campaign #MyWordsMatter at Western.

Last week, the release caught the attention of Suzette Martinez Standring, a nationally syndicated columnist with GateHouse News Service.

In her piece, “Word choice matters,” Standring reflected on her own experience when she didn’t think about the implications of a word she used:

Years ago while at a cafe, I complained about buying a jacket at full price, only to find it elsewhere at 75 percent off. “I got gypped on that deal,” I told my friend. Nearby, a stranger cut in on us, “You shouldn’t use ‘gypped,’ because it’s a racial slur. It suggests that all Gypsies cheat and steal. The term is offensive.”

I retorted, “You know what’s offensive? Eavesdropping on other people’s conversations.” I left, annoyed at political correctness run amok. Yet once I realized the word had a racial element, I never used it again.

Suzette Martinez Standring

Suzette Martinez Standring is a nationally syndicated columnist with GateHouse News Service. Read more about her work at www.readsuzette.com.

In her column, Standring also noted the #MyWordsMatter buzz.

“Unknowingly, eight classmates created a campus-wide movement among 12,000 students who now promote taking responsibility for one’s words,” she wrote.

Standring also interviewed Lutz and noted that he suggested ways to speak up in a respectful way that doesn’t create shame or anger in others.

Use reflective questions. For example, ask, “Do you know what you’re saying when you say ‘that’s so gay?'” Often people will admit it’s something they’ve heard, or common slang, but it gets them thinking. Use a kind tone, and a meaningful conversation may emerge.

Read Standring’s column at www.norwichbulletin.com/columnist/x168224319/Suzette-Martinez-Standring-Word-choice-matters and follow the #MyWordsMatter campaign on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MyWordsMatter.

Spotted on the way to work…

Usually, when this University Relations staffer (Alison) drops off her car to be worked on in the shop, she hitches a ride to work in the company’s van. Today, however, it was so beautiful, a cool and dewy fall morning, she decided to walk to work in Sherman Hall at Western Illinois University, about 1.2 miles away.

On her way to work, she noticed the Community Gardens Initiative started by a WIU professor–a county-wide project involving McDonough County Housing Authority residents–surviving in their blue plastic baby-pool planters, despite last night’s frost warning, and decided to snap a picture. (Please forgive her for capturing her own shadow as well.)

Thumbs up to Professor Rob Porter and the community members who kept a cool, creative idea going this summer and into fall.

cell-phone picture of community garden tubs

Never mind the photographer...please notice the plants!