A Delaware Area Career Center senior recently travelled to Anaheim, California, and came home with second place in a national design competition.
Hannah Peterson, a Delaware resident studying digital design at the DACC, was one of several students that made it to the Business Professionals of America National Competition last week, which Peterson said was a goal of her’s since she originally toured the career center years ago.
“That’s what drew me to the career center in the first place, the competitions,” Peterson said. “I started visiting in seventh or eighth grade, and the teacher (Digital Design instructor Josh Gallagan) had actually told me that if you come here during your senior year, nationals will be in Anaheim. I had said, ‘I’m going to go, it’s going to be amazing.’ Everyone told me ‘don’t get your hopes up,’ and it ended up happening, which is absolutely incredible. I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity.”
Peterson said she had to create a poster and logo for the National Leadership Conference and give a presentation to a panel of judges about the design and her process.
“This competition has really helped me learn how to design for a company and design promotional materials for events, because that’s a very common thing you might do as a graphic designer,” Peterson said.
She added all of the elements of her design can be used separately or together, and it’s her favorite design she’s ever done.
Peterson gave her presentation and found out she was one of 12 students who advanced to finals, while she was waiting in line at Disney Land.
“I was about to get on Space Mountain, and I got the text that I had made finals,” Peterson said. “I was just thrilled.”
Peterson said she had to give her presentation again as part of the finals competition. After both presentations, she was called on stage along with the other students in the top 10.
“I was very nervous for awards,” Peterson said. “They called the top 10 on stage … time sort of slows down when you’re up there. You have to make sure you’re smiling and you’re happy regardless of what happens. That’s the mindset I would try to have; I would be a good representative of the career center and my program, regardless of what happened.”
Peterson was awarded second place in the graphic design competition.
“It was incredible. I didn’t process it until I got home and talked to my parents about it,” Peterson said. “It’s not something I expected to happen. It took months to come up with the design and finalize it. It’s crazy that all that work went into that one moment. I didn’t really hit me for hours after. It was absolutely incredible.”
Peterson said she was less stressed than she was last year and was much more prepared.
“I’m so grateful for my teachers, because they really helped me throughout my design,” Peterson said. “Other staff helped me practice my presentation and that was a big deal. There’s been a lot of input from the other students throughout the process. I’m really grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to compete and do this. It’s been a dream of mine for years. It’s incredible that I managed to pull this off. It took a lot of work, a lot of support, and a lot of prayers, and eventually, everything came together.”
Peterson said before she began attending the career center, she had no experience or skill at public speaking. She now feels more confident, thanks to the competition.
“That’s the biggest thing I’ve gotten out of BPA, the presentation aspect,” Peterson said. “Before I started at the career center, I couldn’t really do public speaking or presentations of any kind. Employers aren’t just looking for people with technical skills, they are looking for people with soft skills like presentation. This year I wasn’t nearly as nervous, I’m just here to talk about and sell my work. I wasn’t stressing nearly as much. I knew what I had, and I knew what I needed to present. That was wonderful.”
After she graduates this spring, Peterson said she’ll be studying design leadership and business design at The Modern College of Design in Kettering, Ohio. Peterson said her goal is to start her own design firm focused on ethical advertising.
Peterson said she’s thankful for the competitions at the career center and the opportunities they provide.
“The competitions are probably the biggest part of my career center experience. They are something I wouldn’t have had access to as a typical high school student or home-schooled student,” Peterson said. “The career center has really just provided these incredible opportunities for me. If you’re considering the career center, go for it. If you’re an independent learner and you thrive in environments like this, you will have a fantastic time and have amazing doors opened for you.”
Gallagan said in the digital design lab, they teach that the process is the product and the focus isn’t always the end result.
“But it’s nice for a student to be rewarded for following that process,” Gallagan said. “It was very exciting. I think there’s a stigma on the post-millennial generation that they don’t know how to follow through or finish. Hannah is proof that that’s not true. Our future is in good hands with leaders like Hannah coming up.”
The other students from the career center who went to the national competition were:
• Reese White, Brian Whitesel, Madison Dyll and Kasey Runyon, who took fifth place out of 34 teams in the video production team competition.
• Matt Hanks, Bryce Dietrich and Lee Morris, who took ninth place out of 21 teams in the computer animation competition.
• Rachel Gaddie and Casey Campbell, who took top 10 in the virtual multimedia promotion individual competition.
• Khang Van, who took seventh out of 31 contestants in the 3D computer modeling competition.
• Jada Millisor, Delta Clark and Devin Mantz, who took 13th place out of 33 teams in the web design team competition.