Academic Excellence Award

Academic Excellence Winner – Seth Williams, Graphic Design & Production

Pursuing a degree in graphic design was not always Seth Williams’ plan. In fact, Williams was not entirely sure what his plans after high school might be. But as the 2021 Academic Excellence Award recipient for Design & Graphics Technology, it is evident that Williams was well suited for the path he decided to take.

“I didn’t really have a direction when I graduated high school. I knew I wanted to do something with computers, but I didn’t know in what capacity,” Williams said. “I just knew that I wanted to find a clear path that would lead to a career.” 

After hearing about Dunwoody from friends and family, Williams was encouraged by what he found out about the College.

“Pursuing technical education felt like a more direct path to a career, and one that wouldn’t take four years. Dunwoody also didn’t require that you take the ACT/SAT, which was also a draw for me,” he said.

Williams saw an opportunity to combine his technical and creative interests by pursuing a degree in Graphic Design & Production from Dunwoody. 

“Part of what drew me to the design program was the idea of collaborating and learning from others,” he said. Having graduated from an online high school, Williams was looking forward to building relationships with peers and professors in a way that he couldn’t before. He thought that this type of in-person, hands-on structure would be especially beneficial in a more creative field where things aren’t always about following a specific method, process, or formula. 

While Williams’ initial impression was that a graphic design program would primarily be a creative and arts-focused field, it did not take long for him to recognize the amount of hands-on technical training that would be incorporated into the curriculum. 

“I realized quickly that it was going to be half art and half production,” he said. 

He embraced challenges like the packaging project in one of his first-year classes. A project where volunteers clients presented different objects that students would have to design branded packaging for. From the overall structural design, to the artwork and barcodes, Williams and his classmates had to consider all aspects of what needed to go into a branded package.

Even now, more than a year after finishing that project, Williams still thinks about what he could have done better or done differently.

“I probably did 25 different iterations of my packaging project,” he said. “I could have stopped at three, but would that have made me proud?”

Williams’ drive and attention to detail did not go unnoticed. 

“Seth finds solutions to visual design problems using strong research skills, exploration, and continued iterations,” shared Pam Glander, a Senior Instructor in the Design & Graphics Technology Department, and William’s client for the packaging project. “He is a good listener and absorbs information and constructive criticism in a positive way, making it easy to work with him as a client. He has both design and technical savvy, which makes him a great asset to any team he works on.”

And Williams thoroughly enjoyed working with a team, noting that collaborating with his classmates on the Intern Expo Booklet for his graduating cohort was a big highlight for him.

“Initially I wasn’t planning on working on the booklet, but was grabbed by the idea that my classmates had presented and was excited to work more with photoshop, as well as on the structural aspects of the piece. It was challenging, but we pulled everything together in a very short timeframe,” he said.

As if working on these in-depth collaborations was not challenging enough, Williams and his classmates worked on each of these projects almost entirely virtually.

Having graduated from an online high school, however, Williams took the challenge in stride. 

“Having gone to an online high school, you didn’t have as much interaction with other students and teachers,” he said. “But at Dunwoody, even after the pandemic hit, you still had that ’face to face‘ time. The professors were engaged, and very responsive to bounce ideas off of.”

One of the most valuable things Williams has taken from his time at Dunwoody is perseverance. Having found a program that continuously pushed and challenged him, Williams wanted to make sure that at the end of the day he was proud of the work that he produced – no matter how long it took to get there.

That perseverance paid off and Williams has landed a fulltime job working as a CAD (Computer Aided Design) Specialist at DL’s Die Cutting in Minneapolis. 

If he has downtime at work he likes to go through past project files that other people have done and examine the designs. 

“I want to make sure I understand different methods and processes so I can become more efficient with the designs I create,” Williams said, adding that he strives to understand the process and scope of work that needs to come before and after the work that he does so that he can be a better team member and collaborator. 

That is the sort of mindset, dedication, and drive that Williams puts into most everything that he sets out to do. Which may also have helped play a part in him becoming the best Rocket League player in the state (a video game that combines soccer and rocket-powered cars) – a hobby that he looks forward to having a bit more time for now that he will have less homework to contend with.