Academic Excellence Award Student News

Finding her future in design

Academic Excellence Award – Genealeigh Haglund, Graphic Design & Production

Genealeigh Haglund is happiest when she is busy. The soon-to-be graduate of the Graphic Design & Production program makes juggling school, multiple jobs, and countless hobbies almost look easy.

A lifelong creative who is endlessly curious, Haglund loves to try new things and explore the world around her. But she notes that that doesn’t necessarily make it easier when it comes to setting out on a career path.

Prior to attending Dunwoody, Haglund pursued a degree in Fine Art from Anoka Ramsey Community College. There she was able to tap into her love of the arts – from painting and drawing, to ceramics and photography. She enjoyed exploring different mediums and the opportunity to develop new skills.

However, as was the case for so many, her time at ARCC was disrupted by the pandemic, and she found herself trying to complete a full class load completely online.

By her fourth semester she had decided to attend part time, noting that while she loved what she was studying, it was difficult for her to stay motivated with an online, asynchronous course load. But she wanted to make sure she stayed busy, so she worked at a local grocery store in the bakery department and as a cashier.

“The pandemic was such a difficult time for everyone. Working at the grocery store made me feel like I was helping because everyone needs groceries and that was one way that I could contribute and stay connected to people,” Haglund said.

As the spring semester wrapped up and summer started, she realized she didn’t know what she wanted to do come fall. She wasn’t quite sure what her future would look like if she stayed with the track she was on and found herself asking what’s next?

Her mom suggested she look into the Graphic Design program at Dunwoody, offering it as a way to mix her creative talents with a technical education and maybe a more clear path to a career — something that Haglund had been struggling with.

Haglund is grateful that she took her advice.

“Every day I come to school I am excited to be here,” she said. “When I first started I was kind of nervous — like, what if this wasn’t the right fit, or what if I fail? But everyone has been so welcoming and supportive. You can tell that everyone wants the best for you and wants to help set you up for success.”

Haglund emersed herself in her classes and sought out any opportunity she could to hone her skills on projects in and outside of the classroom. She also gained experience in production, finishing, and press operation while working as a student worker for Dunwoody Print Services, the College’s in-house print shop.

“It is so cool to have a project go from an idea, to my screen, into production, and to a final tangible piece — and I get to see it through the whole process,” Haglund said.

“Genea shows great curiosity, initiative, and dedication to advancing and honing her talents,” said Korrin Howard, Director for the School of Design.

Haglund has felt her confidence build through these experiences – but still admits that she was extremely surprised to learn that she would be receiving the Academic Excellence Award for her program. 

“Any one of my classmates would have been deserving of this award, they all work so hard,” she said. “Everyone has such different styles and personalities that come through in their work, and they are not afraid to be themselves. It has been awesome to see how everyone solves the same problem in such different and unique ways.”

And that is also part of what she enjoys about graphic design: she loves that there are so many different ways you can approach a project and that with each new project it is like there is a new puzzle to solve.

Looking towards the future, Haglund is excited to be able to keep learning, creating, and exploring her passions.

“It’s hard to pick one single thing that I want to do: is everything an option?” Haglund said. “I am just so happy with how much I’ve grown over the past two years and cannot wait to see what the world has to offer next.”