For Rutgers University–Camden alumna Kate Blair, beginning her position as the web designer for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences–Camden was a homecoming. Though she had been employed as a media specialist at the School of Business-Camden since 2010, Kate relished the opportunity to come back to the school where she earned her bachelor’s degree in electronic arts in 2011. While she enjoyed her time at the School of Business and learned a lot, Kate says simply, “I wanted to come back home to my school.”
Kate first found a home at the College of Arts and Sciences in 2007. After graduating from Overbrook Regional High School, Kate started a full-time job with the sculpting studio Beatrice Designs, Inc., a gig she landed in part through a portfolio preparedness class she took as an extracurricular activity while in high school. While at Beatrice Designs, Kate created figurines, toys, and promotional items for large corporations, such as Disney. While the job was creatively fulfilling, after three years Kate began looking for another opportunity with more financial stability. She signed up with a temp agency, which found her a position with Aegis Property Group, a company located in Philadelphia. Eventually Kate’s temp job turned into a full-time position as an administrator, which required her to both manage projects and produce marketing materials.
While at Aegis, Kate, who previously had taken some classes at Camden County College, decided it was time to return to school. A conversation with her friend, Steven Palaia , a Rutgers University–Camden student majoring in electronic art with a concentration in computer animation, convinced Kate that Rutgers University–Camden was the right choice for her. Steve spoke highly of the 3D animation program, and Kate knew the prestige the Rutgers name carries, partially because both her father and two sisters are Rutgers alumni. “I knew I wanted to get my degree,” Kate says. “Rutgers–Camden made it convenient.”
Once accepted, Kate enrolled in courses which taught her animation fundamentals like modeling, UV mapping, and rigging. While still in school, Kate was able to apply the knowledge she learned in real-world situations, such as in the nation-wide contest Allan Espiritu, Associate Professor of Art, enrolled Kate and other students in, which required them to come up with a design to promote Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Kate’s design of a stuffed bear intended for therapists to use with young children and pre-teens impressed the judges, and she was one of the contest winners.
In addition to the commendation of the mentorship provided by Associate Professor Espiritu and LiQin Tan, Professor of Art, Kate praises alumni-turned-instructors Eric Thivierge (CCAS ’07) and Andy Zazzera (CCAS ’08) for their artistic talent and teaching aptitude, and gives them credit for helping her land an internship as an artist assistant with SpeakeasyFX, an animation studio based in Westfield, New Jersey. As part of her internship, Kate worked on “Abby’s Flying Fairy School,” a 3D computer animated segment for Sesame Street, a project that came to be dominated by Rutgers University–Camden students and alumni. For the internship, Kate helped design and draw characters and props that were used for the segment. She calls the experience “invaluable,” and in particular recalls that, “being on the set of Sesame Street was amazing!”
After the conclusion of her internship and before she graduated with honors, Kate found another job opportunity, this time at the School of Business-Camden. A business school staff member contacted the fine arts department, seeking a student worker experienced in graphic design. Kate landed the part-time position, and after two years applied and was hired as their full-time media specialist. While at the School of Business-Camden, Kate gained experienced in web design and in producing printed marketing materials for undergraduate and graduate programs. One of her most memorable projects was for the School of Business-Camden’s twenty-fifth anniversary celebration, which required her to work on a full campaign, and included save-the-dates, multi-layered invitations, a brochure, programs, presentations, and a website.
Looking back at her own story, Kate is thrilled by her decision to get her bachelor’s degree, noting that by doing so, “I changed the trajectory of my career. So many doors were opened to me [because of my degree]. It’s never too late to go back to school.” As Kate has shown, it’s never too late to go home, either.
About Kate Blair
Position: Faculty of Arts and Sciences-Camden Web Designer
Hometown: Sicklerville, NJ
Written By Julie Roncinske