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McPherson College Announces Spring Horizon Fund Grant Recipients

For more than a decade, McPherson College has been encouraging the entrepreneurial ideas of its students by awarding mini-grants that help students develop innovative solutions to common problems. With more than 300 grants awarded, the college recently announced the latest recipients of the Horizon Fund Grants.

This spring, the Horizon Fund is providing grants to 15 students with ideas ranging from a car rental service to day care to fitness training. The individual grants range from $100 to $500 and students have the options to reapply for continued funding of existing Horizon Fund Grant projects.

Abbey Archer-Rierson, chief of staff and head of the entrepreneurship program at McPherson College, said, “The Horizon Fund Grant is just one of many ways McPherson College demonstrates its commitment to entrepreneurship and supports entrepreneurial students on our campus. The grants have supported a variety of wildly creative ideas and this most recent round of funding is no exception.”

Recipients of the spring 2022 Horizon Fund Grants are:

  • Edwin Buiter, Automotive Restoration, Ireton, IA – 24 Hours of Lemons event – “I plan to race a car in the 24 Hours of Lemons open-wheel racing series. We will purchase, build, modify, race, and repair a car allowing students to develop many valuable skills that they may not otherwise have an opportunity to develop.”
  • Zoe Carmichael, Raleigh, NC – Manual transmission driving lessons for women – “I would like to start a workshop where I teach women how to drive a manual transmission vehicle. I would use my own Volkswagen Beetle, which is very easy to learn on.”
  • Isiah Collins, Biology, Las Vegas, NV – Reselling business – “I would like to make a platform where students can resell what they like. I have been focusing on reselling sneakers and would like to create an app where individuals could join groups and sell their items.”
  • Maritza Gonzalez, Elementary Education/Special Education, Eagle Pass, TX – Daycare for students with children – “I want to do something to help parents with kids that want to continue to go to college. I want to start a daycare for college students who have children and provide a way for education majors to gain experience.”
  • Lola B. Hipp, Graphic Design, Goodland, KS – Photography and design business – “I would like to start a photography and design name for myself. It would give a chance for students to have their cars or themselves photographed or a logo designed.”
  • Kadee B. Johnson, Business Management: Accounting/Finance, Groveton, TX – Photography business – “I want to begin a photography business. I believe in capturing moments that can forever be looked back on as a heartfelt memory for somebody.”
  • Carson Lambakis, Business Management, Yukon, OK – Mental Health-centered Clothing Brand – “Develop a clothing brand that gives people the opportunity to express, cope, and spread awareness through apparel.”
  • Connor McDonald, Automotive Restoration, Ashville, AL – Rental car service – “Normal repairs on vehicles are taking longer due to manufacturing and supply chain restrictions, and people are being left without transportation. I would like to make extra vehicles I own available to rent for temporary transportation.”
  • Matt Mahan, Automotive Restoration Management, Topeka, KS – Photography business – “I would like to expand my portfolio by taking more pictures of cars, people, buildings, and more around campus and town. Once I have a solid portfolio, I plan on integrating photography into my career.”
  • Christopher J. Miller, Automotive Restoration, West Milton, Ohio – Photography for auto restoration students – “I would like to help fellow students promote themselves and their work in a professional manner and quality photos showing what they are capable of can be very powerful.”
  • Luis Rodriguez, Jr., Business Marketing, The Colony, TX – Music business – “My goal is to make music that allows me to express myself and entertain listeners.”
  • Daniel Salina IV, Health Science, Mercedes, TX – Car detailing business – “I recently started a car detailing business. I would like to receive funding for tools, chemicals, and business cards needed for my business.”
  • Robert Schonberner, Omaha, NE, Automotive Restoration Business – Computer application development – “My idea is to create an app for semi-truck drivers to use while on the road that shows everything needed to get from point A to point B. It would be focused on the information that large trucks need to know to get somewhere fast.”
  • Owen Sutherland, Sociology, Los Angeles, CA – Fitness/training business – “I would like to become a professional track & field coach for levels from elementary up to professional athletes. I would like to get my USATF coaching certificate and personal training certificate to help mold people’s bodies and minds in a positive direction.”
  • Quashad Washington, Business Administration, Tucson, AZ – Fitness/training business – “I would like to provide athletes with the effective training they need to perform at the highest level, whether collegiately or professionally. I would coach speed and mechanics, which are the main things athletes need to be successful.”

McPherson College Announces Fall 2021 Horizon Fund Grant Recipients

Since 2021, McPherson College has been encouraging the entrepreneurial ideas of its students by awarding mini-grants that help students develop innovative solutions to common problems. With more than 300 grants awarded, the college recently announced the latest recipients of the Horizon Fund Grants.

This fall, the Horizon Fund is providing grants to 10 students with ideas ranging from development of a computer application to creation of a YouTube channel. The individual grants range from $100 to $500 and students have the option to reapply for continued funding of existing Horizon Fund Grant projects.

Abbey Archer-Rierson, chief of staff and head of the entrepreneurship program at McPherson College, said, “The Horizon Fund Grant is just one of many ways McPherson College demonstrates its commitment to entrepreneurship and supports entrepreneurial students on our campus. The grants have supported a variety of wildly creative ideas and this most recent round of funding is no exception.”

Recipients of the fall 2021 Horizon Fund Grants are:

  • Matt Mahan, automotive restoration management, Topeka, Kansas – photography – “I would like to expand my portfolio and plan on integrating photography into my career.”
  • Alex Vanpatten, business finance, Almena, Kansas – apparel – “A lot of people have a hard time sharing their faith, so I created Scripture Boulevard to give believers a way to publicly share their faith through Christian apparel and accessories.”
  • Robert Aurner, automotive restoration, Topeka, Kansas – concrete cleaning/resealing“I would use the funding to get my foot in the door here in McPherson and start my business. It is something I did back home and really think it would work here.”
  • Robert Schonberner, automotive restoration business, Omaha, Nebraska – app development – “My idea is to create an app for semi-truck drivers to use while on the road that shows everything needed to get from point A to point B.”
  • Junior Silva, graphic design/photography, Sterling, Kansas – photography – “I would like to develop my own small photography business focusing on senior photography for college and high school students.”
  • Tya Jackson, religion, politics, law, Wichita, Kansas – YouTube channel – “I want to make college advice/day in my life videos for my own YouTube channel and become an influencer.”
  • Cailey Cornett, digital media design, Lindsborg, Kansas – virtual assistant – “I would like to grow my business as a photographer and artist to create a digital media business. As a virtual assistant, I would be photographing, filming, and running social pages for business, artists, or small bands.”
  • Luis Rodriguez, Jr., business marketing, The Colony, Texas – music production – “I like to make music to express my feelings, and to make people feel something they did not know they were actually feeling.”
  • Parker Hull, communications, Wylie, Texas – apparel – “I own a clothing brand, Youth Empire Apparel. What makes it unique is our effort of providing donations and inspiration to youth. We donate 10 percent of all proceeds to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.”
  • Bethany Masters, biochemistry, Howe, Texas – develop Esty shop – “I started sewing in the spring of 2020 when we got sent home from school and it turned into a great stress-relieving activity. I would like to start an Etsy shop to offer afford

Horizon Grant Funds First Book For Auto Restoration Student

Jackie Gulliion

Jackie Gulliion, sophomore auto restoration student

The title of her first book, “Nuts & Bolts,” is very fitting for McPherson College students Jackie Gullion. She is a sophomore in the automotive restoration program and getting ready to publish her first collection of poems, prose, and non-fiction.

Gullion, who is from Fremont, CA, received a Horizon Fund Grant from the college to help her with the cost of publishing the book. The college awards the mini-grants to encourage the development of entrepreneurial ideas among students. McPherson College has awarded more than 250 grants since 2010.

The idea of writing a book did not occur to Gullion until she became a student at the college and began writing letters to her aunt.

“Writing was something I did a lot in high school but I didn’t think I was good at it,” she said. “Then I came here and joined the Rogue Writers. I realized how much I enjoyed writing.”

Through Rogue Writers – the college’s creative writing club – and encouragement from professors, Gullion gained the confidence to start collecting enough work for a book. She is also pursuing a minor in writing and hopes to become the first person at McPherson College to graduate with one.

“I plan to continue writing after I graduate,” she said. “My goal is to publish a book each year. I already have enough for one or two more books.”

Some of her writing reflects her other passion for automobiles, such as this excerpt from a poem: “Remembering the sounds;/drills making music, engines coming to life,/screams of frustration, ones that we can all relate to/nuts and bolts turning/bringing together life of something/we never thought would be resurrected.”

McPherson College was her first and only choice when it came to selecting a college. She received a Phil Hill Scholar in 2020, a scholarship awarded by the Pebble Beach Company Foundation, and serves as president of C.A.R.S. Club, the student organization for auto restoration.

“Some of the writing in the book is about how I feel when I’m driving and the experiences I’ve had as a student in the AR program,” she said. “It’s my meditation moment.”

Gullion hopes to have a book launch party next semester and looks forward to hosting a book signing and reading events at local stores and libraries.

McPherson College Announces Fall 19 Horizon Fund Grant Recipients

Horizon Fund presentation

Since 2010, McPherson College has been encouraging the entrepreneurial ideas of its students by awarding mini-grants that help students develop innovative solutions to common problems. With nearly 300 grants awarded, the college recently announced the latest recipients of the Horizon Fund Grants.

This fall, the Horizon Fund is providing grants to eight students with ideas ranging from podcast development to custom-made briefcases and luggage. The individual grants range from $100 to $500, and students have the option to reapply for continued funding of existing Horizon Fund grant projects.

Abbey Archer-Rierson, chief of staff and head of the entrepreneurship program at McPherson College, said, “The Horizon Fund grant is just one of many ways McPherson College demonstrates its commitment to entrepreneurship and supporting entrepreneurial students on our campus. The grants have supported a variety of wildly creative ideas and this most recent round of funding is no exception.”

Recipients of the fall 2019 Horizon Fund grants are:

  • Mason Duffey, junior, technology: automotive communication, Bellbrook, Ohio – photography – “Eventually, I would like to make a book highlighting the different subcultures of the automotive scene.”
  • Jeremiah Greene, senior, technology: restoration technology, Farragut, Iowa – custom leather goods – “People love having custom things made just for them that are one of a kind.”
  • Parker Hull, sophomore, communications, Wylie, Texas – clothing brand that donates 10 percent to charity – “We truly believe that this brand is the beginning of a vast, inspiring, and motivational movement that will encourage people to make a positive difference in our world.”
  • Peyton Lindsey, freshman, sociology: criminal justice, and psychology: health and human services, Prairie Village, Kansas – Podcast focusing on mental health – “We want to voice what we know as college students through our experiences in life so far.”
  • Wyatt Miceli, sophomore, technology: restoration technology, Woodacre, California– hand-crafted briefcases and luggage – “We hope to create a niche market for those who desire handmade goods for a competitive price.”
  • Francisco Montoya, sophomore, technology: restoration technology, Wasco, California – after-market bash bar for cars – “What makes my bash bars unique is they provide safety for all types of cars, not only drifters, track or rally racers.”
  • Anthony Powell, sophomore, digital media: visual design, Leavenworth, Kansas – photography – “My focus is to help capture moments for people and have them showcase events or brands to help promote themselves and their company.”
  • Sean Robinson, sophomore, technology: restoration technology, La Grange, Illinois – photography – “My videography business focuses on the automotive restoration program and features restoration updates, shop videos, and interviews that are used to inform future students or donors.”

McPherson College Announces Latest Horizon Fund Grant Recipients

Since 2010 McPherson College has been encouraging the entrepreneurial ideas of its students by awarding mini-grants that help students develop innovative solutions to common problems. With more than 250 grants awarded, the college recently announced the latest recipients of the Horizon Fund Grants.

This spring, the Horizon Fund is providing 10 grants to 11 students with ideas ranging from an on-campus coffee shop and online design company to a travel blog. The individual grants range from $100 to $500 and students have the opportunity to reapply for continued funding of an existing Horizon Fund project.

Abbey Archer-Rierson, chief of staff and head of the entrepreneurship program at McPherson College, said, “The Horizon Fund grant is just one of the many ways that McPherson College demonstrates its commitment to entrepreneurship and supporting entrepreneurial students on our campus. The grants have supported a variety of wildly creative ideas and this most recent round of funding is no exception.”

Any McPherson College student, in any major of study is eligible for the grant, whether individually or as part of a team. Grant proposals are considered each semester and evaluated by a team of faculty and staff that interview each applicant.

Recipients of the spring 2019 Horizon Fund grants are:

  • Victoria Gonzales, Elementary Education, Keller, Texas – Coffee stand on campus, “I will provide a variety of drinks and snacks including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. I will meet the needs of the students.”
  • Xander Lehn, Automotive Restoration Technology, Sacramento, California – Metal Garage, “Many classic cars had options and accessories when they were new but as they age, fewer and fewer businesses offer what collectors really want. My market is focused on people who like to use their classic cars for things other than just shows.”
  • Alex Ramsier, Automotive Restoration Technology/Management, Wooster, Ohio – Restoration Shop, “My idea is different because I am a young entrepreneur still in college looking to build an automotive business, when most students wait until after graduation or later to build a business.”
  • Francis Abate, Automotive Restoration Technology, Steamboat Springs, Colorado – Electrical business for automotive restoration, “The restoration and preservation of automobiles and related vehicles is a growing marketplace and the skills needed to repair these cars and trucks are becoming increasingly harder to find. My automotive restoration education is giving me the foundation necessary in order to serve this growing need.”
  • Rick Sakamoto, Business Management, Frankston, South Australia – Coffee stand on campus, “The idea is to start a coffee stand on campus with a menu that includes several different options to cater to a wide variety of students, staff, and visitors. It would operate one to two hours each morning including weekends.”
  • Mason Duffey, Automotive Restoration Technology/Communications, Bellbrook, Ohio – Automotive media equipment, “I want to go into automotive media after I graduate and had the idea to create my own internship by traveling the country this summer writing, photographing, and videoing my journey in order to build my professional portfolio.”
  • Amanda Lolling, Business, accounting/marketing and Graphic Design, Haysville, Kansas; and Matt Bouwkamp, Graphic Design, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma – Online graphic design, “We would like to meet the affordable art need. Artwork, especially personalized is often quite expensive. We would like to offer beautiful creations at an affordable price.”
  • Moneshya Green, Digital Media: Visual Design, McCook, Nebraska – Host family network for students, “My idea is to have ‘adoptive’ families for students who are a long way from home. The host families could possibly gain a babysitter, house sitter, or pet sitter, while the student could gain home-cooked meals, rides, and just a family to fill-in until they are able to go home.”
  • Jeremiah Greene, Automotive Restoration Technology, Farragut, Iowa – Upholstery shop, “It is something I am passionate about and there is a shortage of trimmers. I think my passion and skill set will set me apart from other students or businesses.”
  • Stef Krsmanovic, Health Science, Gornji Milanovac, Serbia – Recruiting students from Serbia, “I think it is a unique idea because I’ll do something that is going to promote McPherson College in a whole different world.”
  • Ian Rhoten, Graphic Design/studio, Wichita, Kansas – Writing and illustrating a children’s book, “My book would be a meaningful adventure for children to experience with depth to interest adults. Children can understand more than most people give them credit for. My book is not only for them to process and understand, but for adults to mull over as well.”

McPherson College Announces Latest Horizon Fund Grant Recipients

Since 2010 McPherson College has been encouraging the entrepreneurial ideas of its students by awarding mini-grants that help students develop innovative solutions to common problems. With more than 250 grants awarded, the college recently announced the latest recipients of the Horizon Fund Grants.

This fall, the Horizon Fund is providing grants to 10 students with ideas ranging from hand-crafted tools to book publishing. The individual grants range from $100 to $500 and students have the opportunity to reapply for continued funding of an existing Horizon Fund project.

Abbey Archer-Rierson, chief of staff and head of the entrepreneurship program at McPherson College, said, “The Horizon Fund grant is just one of the many ways that McPherson College demonstrates its commitment to entrepreneurship and supporting entrepreneurial students on our campus. The grants have supported a variety of wildly creative ideas and this most recent round of funding is no exception.”

Any McPherson College student, in any major of study is eligible for the grant, whether individually or as part of a team. Grant proposals are considered each semester and evaluated by a team of faculty and staff that interview each applicant.

Recipients of the fall 2018 Horizon Fund grants are:

  • Summer Buckshaw, junior, studio arts, McPherson – Etsy store to make, sell, and repair vintage-inspired clothing – “I am meeting the need for professional quality, custom clothing with vintage designs that are rising in popularity.”
  • Mason Duffey, sophomore, automotive communications, Bellbrook, Ohio – Professional automotive photography – “Eventually, I would like to make a book highlighting the different subcultures of the automobile scene and the different types of people that are in each subculture.”
  • Grayson Henry, freshman, graphic design major, McKinney, Texas – Gray Sun Boutique – “My online boutique philosophy will be to bring uniqueness to a woman’s wardrobe at a price unlike other pricier websites.”
  • Charley Hoehaver, junior automotive restoration technology, Auburn, Alabama – Professional automotive photography – “In the nearly six years of doing this, I’ve seen far greater success with my work than I’d ever imagined and I am motivated to continue to improve in efforts to help achieve my greater goal.”
  • Reed MacDougall, junior, history major from Fort Riley, Kansas – Make and sell homemade potato chips – “I’ve thought since I went to school here that the snack option in the library is lacking variety. Why can’t I make a cheap and tasty snack?”
  • Matthew Miller-Wells, senior, historic automotive technology, Leavenworth, Kansas – Blog dedicated to finding abandoned buildings and monuments in Kansas City and Wichita – “It’s as much an adventure for me as it is for the reader. My blog would serve both as educating those curious of the history while reading about my personal experiences riding a vintage motorcycle on my travels.”
  • Sam Nelson, senior, chemistry, Clearfield, Utah – Food pantry for students with children – “Supply those in need with diapers, formula, or anything else they may need for their kids.”
  • Alex Ramsier, senior, automotive restoration technology, Wooster, Ohio – Automotive shop – “I am taking a different approach by meeting the need of an affordable product, allowing people to enter the car community or bring their pride and joy back to life.”
  • Sean Robinson, freshman, automotive restoration technology, La Grange, Illinois – Make and sell precision hammers – “The hammers are high-quality built combined with brass heads and exotic wood handles custom-turned to balance perfectly in the customer’s hand that look great in any toolbox.”
  • Tomi Simmons, sophomore, history-political science, Las Vegas, Nevada – Publish a creative writing book – “I would represent the school in a great manner that would influence other writers and people to be a part of the growing creative community we have at McPherson College.”

McPherson College Selects Global Enterprise Challenge Winner

Jaden Hilgers - 2017 GEC winner

2017 Global Enterprise Challenge winner – Jaden Hilgers, JR, Wichita , Kan.

A project that combines branding, outreach and a commercial to raise awareness of the plight of the Ecuadorian rainforest was the winning proposal in this year’s Global Enterprise Challenge at McPherson College. A proposal by Jaden Hilgers, a junior from Wichita, was selected from a field of six entries and earned Hilgers a week-long learning tour in Ecuador.

The McPherson College Global Enterprise Challenge is a competition that encourages students to address significant global issues through entrepreneurial thinking. This year’s competition challenged students to take on the issue of globalization, specifically in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. The students were asked to plan a project that would help give voice to the marginalized populations that depend on the rainforest for a variety of resources.

McPherson College worked with The New Community Project, an organization that fights for social and environmental justice through education and empowerment, to provide a platform of this year’s challenge. The winning student project could become a tangible product used by The New Community Project to share the Ecuadorian people’s story.

Hilgers proposal includes a print campaign that incorporates a brand and logo for email and letterhead as well as a plan for church outreach to raise awareness of issues surrounding the rainforest. The proposal also includes a commercial that Hilgers will film while in Ecuador.

“This year’s challenge gives students an opportunity to be the voice of this marginalized ecosystem and those marginalized people that depend on it in a way that inspires real change,” Dustin Wilgers, associate professor of biology at McPherson College, said. “The opinions of these people are not considered during decisions about their land and without a voice in society, marginalized groups, like the tribes that live in the Ecuadorian rainforest, lack the ability to stand up for the injustices posed against them.”

The competition encouraged students to use a variety of different types of media or approaches when developing their proposals. Anything from video, artwork, photography, playwriting, to essays was accepted.

The project is a perfect fit for Hilgers, who is majoring in graphic design, studio art/photography, and philosophy and religion.

“This will definitely be new territory for me,” Hilgers said. “I have the skill set, but have not used it in this way before. I am looking forward to the opportunity to grow my skills in portraiture and telling the stories behind the photos.”

As the winner of this year’s challenge, Hilgers, will accompany the McPherson College travel experience class on a learning tour with The New Community Project to the Amazon rainforest in May.

McPherson College Announces Latest Horizon Fund Grant Recipients

Since 2010 McPherson College has been encouraging the entrepreneurial ideas of its students by awarding mini-grants that help students develop innovative solutions to common problems. With nearly 250 grants awarded, the college recently announced the latest recipients of the Horizon Fund Grants.

This fall, the Horizon Fund is providing grants to 11 students with ideas ranging from guerilla retailing to vehicle towing. The individual grants range from $100 to $500 and students have the opportunity to reapply for continued funding of an existing Horizon Fund project.

Abbey Archer-Rierson, chief of staff and head of the entrepreneurship program at McPherson College, said, “The Horizon Fund grant is just one of the many ways that McPherson College demonstrates its commitment to entrepreneurship and supporting entrepreneurial students on our campus. The grants have supported a variety of wildly creative ideas and this most recent round of funding is no exception.”

Any McPherson College student, in any major of study is eligible for the grant, whether individually or as part of a team. Grant proposals are considered each semester and evaluated by a team of faculty and staff that interview each applicant.

Recipients of the fall Horizon Fund grants are:

  • Evan Willow – iPhone repair business: “I’m targeting college student to give them the opportunity to get their iPhone fixed at a reasonable price.”
  • Carlos Espinel – Repurpose and restore Coleman lanterns: “The old collectible, American-made, Coleman lanterns are a hot commodity right now and are fairly easy to find around here. The market appeal is to outdoor enthusiast, antique collectors and some vintage automobile clubs, but not limited to those markets.”
  • Mason Duffy – Finding and selling rare, vintage, and new car parts: “I will be creating a business that resells rare and vintage parts for Japanese imports, along with my own line of custom made composite parts, t-shirts, and stickers. I want this to be a one-stop online shop where people can buy hard to find vintage parts, new parts, and shirts to look cool while driving their project cars.”
  • Juan Torres – Tire repair business: “I would like to acquire tools to perform difficult tire repair. There are many vehicles that have split wheels that shops are not willing to repair. It’s common for people to get stuck on a project simply because they can’t move it. I want to serve the McPherson College Automotive Restoration program’s students as well as community members who need assistance.”
  • Riley Richardson – Clothing business: “I buy and sell clothing items from Supreme clothing company. The clothes are extremely coveted and hard to get directly from the store. I buy the items direct and then resell them to people willing to pay a premium. There is a large market for this brand and people willing to buy the clothes after they sell out online.”
  • Nathan Buckler – Peaches Shop-Auto Shop: “I would like to rent spaces in my shop. I have a place that is secure, safe, and has reliable wi-fi. I’d like to update the lighting and work on developing a rental agreement for the spaces.”
  • Alex Ramsier – Auto paint and body shop: “Many young entrepreneurs start their business careers after college. I hope to establish a business front with a customer base while I am still in school. I have been completing paint and body work for customers and think this will become a successful and profitable business for me. My goal is to run my own business and turn my passion into a living.”
  • Andrew Verkteris – Affordable towing and recovery: “My goal is to take my experience in this field and build a business here. The funds would be used on my vehicle so it complies with Kansas regulations. I would provide an affordable vehicle transport option for the students in the Automotive Restoration program.”
  • Micah Gilbert – Photography business: “I hope to continue expanding my photography business while I am in college and expand my freelance opportunities. I still haven’t specialized in a specific type of photography, but I am leaning toward nature photography, which can be an expensive area because you need good gear to get the best shots. I’d like to use this grant to expand into that area.”
  • Isiah Hill – Nimbus – listening to music with other senses: “My idea revolves around driving community culture toward a shared value. Being able to build a home studio can lay out a foundation to enhance the future of consuming media. I want to provide access to those who have something positive to contribute and create a new way of comprehending music.”
  • Kylee Martin – Zumbathon benefiting Giving Hope to Cancer Fund: “I helped organize the first-ever Zumbathon for the McPherson College Student Activities Board with money raised going to the local Giving Hope to Cancer Fund. I am a licensed Zumba instructor and I thought this would be a fun way to raise money for a great cause.”

Entrepreneurial Faculty Design Program That Meets Needs of Job Market

The new Digital Media degree at McPherson College combines communication, design and technology preparing students to find a career in the ever-changing marketplace. The newest academic program, beginning this fall, was designed using the school’s approach of applying entrepreneurship to education.

“How we have designed our Digital Media major is completely unique to anything in the state of Kansas,” Dee Erway-Sherwood, professor and program director of graphic design, said. “We’re developing the type of curriculum geared toward getting students a job using very different programs, such as UX and UI. Studios and businesses want students who can do a little bit of everything, but also code. And, we aren’t just talking about big businesses. Based on our research with local businesses and their needs, they are wanting local artists with a grounding of graphic design and communications.”

It’s this variety of skills that inspires the flexibility in McPherson College’s degree. Students can take a variety of core courses and then tailor their major to their strengths. They can focus either in Communication or in Visual Design, using skills such as graphic design, web design, social media, public relations, coding, User Interface (UI), and User Experience (UX).

What sets McPherson College apart from other digital media programs, is the facilities and support available to students, including:

  • An up-to-date lab with more than 30 computers, all connected to on-site IT support, and available 24-hours a day.
  • All software the students need is included. Currently that includes graphic design, editing, moving image, 3-D, and web design software.
  • Face-to-face, often one-to-one, support from qualified professors.
  • Hands-on experience in the community at Etch, a student run graphic design studio in downtown McPherson, affiliated with McPherson College Entrepreneurial Program.
  • Competition at the AIGA Design Contest, a professional portfolio and networking event where McPherson College recently swept the awards, winning eight out of ten of the highest awards.
  • Like the rest of the college, 98% of majors find employment within six months of graduation, with many receiving multiple offers.

Following the success of the Auto Restoration program, the Visual Arts and Communications departments identified a gap in the market for their students and took the opportunity to follow the college’s strategic plan of “nurturing entrepreneurial faculty to develop attractive academic programs” to develop the new digital media degree.

The Art Department also reached out to an anonymous donor, who shared the college’s vision and was eager to develop the program. Additionally, the Communications Department brought in Nathan Pollard, a graphic designer with 20-years’ experience in television post-production, to teach and develop new courses with Dr. Becki Bowman, associate professor of communication and Erway-Sherwood.

While students learn communications, business and technology basics, the core of the design element is rooted in art.

“Many people think that modern design, such as coding, multimedia or website design, is a case of knowing which buttons to push on a computer. It’s so much more than that,” Pollard said. “You have to understand the basic elements of the art or design you are trying to produce. It’s so evident when people rush to just get something out. You need to know what is aesthetically pleasing, all-the-while fulfilling the client’s specs with a design that is also inviting to the customer.”

According to LinkedIn, at the beginning of 2017, there were 4,666 jobs are available in UX and UI, and 8,730 jobs available for Digital Media in the United States. Specifically, this can include jobs such as public relations, digital media producer, social media strategist, UX/UI designer, content strategist, web designer, graphic designer, videographer, photography editor and countless others.

Adam Porter, a 2016 McPherson College graduate, currently works as a product designer with FloSports, a digital sports company in Austin, Texas. Porter, who created his own track in digital media before the new degree was offered, says his time at McPherson College was integral in his ability to gain employment.

“I chose McPherson College because it presented me with the unique opportunity of combining courses from different disciplines to pursue a career in digital product design. Through the combination of graphic design, business, math and programming course I found I was uniquely positioned to be competitive within the technology start-up job market,” he said. “Design courses taught me to think strategically about design challenges while sharpening my visual design skills; business courses taught me about the different use cases a digital product designer should have in mind, while math and programming courses gave me insights into some of the technical requirements digital product designers often encounter.”

From the perspective of a recent graduate, learning a wide variety of skills made all the difference for Porter. “I know other students seeking to join a tech start up after college can have the same success I’ve had through the new digital media major. I’d also encourage students to get involved with their fellow students, professors, and the greater design community.”

Jump Start Kansas Competition Provides Grants to Entrepreneurial High School Students

By Johanna Hoffman ’17, communication major

Entrepreneurship is a mindset that McPherson College implements in many ways. Students, faculty, and staff are provided opportunities to flex their entrepreneurial spirit and encourage expanding horizons through innovation, originality, and initiative to seize new opportunities. Jump Start Kansas was started six years ago and is an opportunity for high school and prospective students to get an inside look at the entrepreneurial program.

McPherson College receives concept ideas from high school students across the state each year. This year, 17 students were invited to campus to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges from the college. After presenting their concepts, each participant is granted up to $500 from the college to put their idea into action.

McPherson College President Dr. Michael Schneider says promoting entrepreneurship opportunities for high school students benefits the participants and the college.

“Jump Start Kansas is different than recognizing someone for their academic, artistic or athletic abilities. We value student ideas and their entrepreneurial spirit, and we hope that a few students get a chance to see that we are a good option for them to pursue their idea as a McPherson College student.”

Lizbeth Gonzalez of Independence, Mo., was a finalist with her idea for an online shopping app that allows customers to visualize what clothes would look like on before they purchase them. To her, entrepreneurship is about coming up with ideas to improve people’s lives.

“I’m always ecstatic about coming up with new ways to make the life of the consumer a tad easier. Being an entrepreneur is having the mindset of someone that is creative, bold, and looking for new ways to facilitate and build up the community.”

Yanet Cecenas-Salazar of McPherson, Kan., proposed an idea for a pet hotel. She says for her, the key to successful entrepreneurship is being able to think outside the box and not overthink an idea.

“Being an entrepreneur is a great skill. It lets you become a leader and gives you critical thinking skills.”

Schneider was particularly impressed with this year’s Jump Start Kansas participants and their well-developed concepts.

“More students came with ideas in the execution stage—they are coming in with ideas that they are already trying.”

The finalists for Jump Start Kansas were:

Sierra Brown, Lansing, Kan.: quilt designing business
Daphne Cassanova, Wichita, Kan.: Youga – traveling yoga studio
Yanet Cecenas-Salazar, McPherson, Kan.: Pet Hotel
Ja’River Dunlap, Kansas City, Mo.: Nonprofit youth volleyball organization
Lizbeth Gonzalez, Independence, Mo.: Estilo – shopping app that helps shoppers visualize what they’re buying
Kiara Grimes, Wichita, Kan.: Affordable daycare for low-income families
Demetrius Jobe, Hutchinson, Kan.: All-natural smoothie business
Anthony Loya, Kansas City, Kan.: Dental IT company
Paige Houchen, McPherson, Kan.: Incentive implementation for installing breathalyzer ignition interlocks
Regan Pourner, Wellington, Kan.: Grocery delivery service
Paige Rickman, McPherson, Kan.: App that connects people of different political views, allowing them to learn from one another
Taylor Rico, Wichita, Kan.: ΧΡΩΜΑ – all natural and customizable makeup line
Jack Setser, Wichita, Kan.: Build-your-own crepe shop, with different flavors of crepes and toppings
Stephanie Vickroy, McPherson, Kan.: Crème de la Crème – cat cafè that pairs with local humane society
Sara Wasko, Hanston, Kan.: App to allow people to easily publish thirty-second videos
Jarad Werner and Seth Coleson, Codell, Kan.: Company that designs a solar-powered drone capable of recharging battery at the same rate at which it is depleted by motor
Victoria Winger, Wellington, Kan.: Skirting Around – business focusing on homemade, custom fit skirts