Alumni Update: Paola Robelo Advances in Graphic Design

Paola Robelo and Dr. Steven Engel.

While Paola Robelo visited her alma mater during homecoming, she took the time to stop by the Eidson House and to reminisce on her past experiences in the Honors Program at Georgia Southern University. She is currently a resident graphic designer for a high-end retail company, Ben Silver. The company is known for their well-tailored suits, silk ties, cufflinks and many more clothing essentials. Paola Robelo, is currently living in Charleston, South Carolina, where she assists in an assortment of fields within the design aspects of online and print publications for Ben Silver.

“I design layouts and assist in the photography of catalogs, as well as prepare interactive online versions. I conduct sales analysis and square inch analysis of catalogs using the company’s operating system (QOP). I execute and update web imagery, creative content, and merchandise web photography through Net Store Manager (NSM), the company’s web software,” Robelo said.

She also plays in important role in creating print advertisements for the company at local print publications such as the Official Charleston Area South Carolina Visitors Guide in 2015, 2016 and 2017, as well as the Charleston Area Golf Guide in 2015. Ben Silver uses both digital and physical advertisement for their company. The balance of the two allows the company to interact with the customer in a variety of ways, whether it be through social media or a print add.

“I develop a wide range of printed and online marketing material including ads, email, web graphics, posters, and postcards. I also manage all of our social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest,” she said.

Robelo has the opportunity to learn from other graphic designers, because an aspect of her job is collaboration with others. As a united team, the graphic designers at Ben Silver work together to create new, pioneering means of marketing and advertisement for the consumer. This group based atmosphere allows for innovation and creativity to shine.

Robelo’s routine at Ben Silver is constantly changing. She is presented with a new task to accomplish, depending on the project she is focusing on. Her responsibilities span from catalog design to photography. Each aspect requires a different set of skills, which allows for an ever changing work atmosphere. This setting forces Robelo to create new and innovative designs while adapting to new challenges every day.

“Every day is different. It all depends on the project that I am working on that day and/or week. Catalog days are very intense and fast paced. Designing layouts and placement for the merchandise requires a lot of thinking and strategy. Photography days are tedious and very detail oriented. Through the photos, I am able to express the quality of the product by telling a story with every outfit featured in the catalog. I try to be creative while staying within the branding of the company overall, every day requires a lot of strategy and always having a fresh creative mind,” Robelo said.

While studying graphic design, marketing and art history at Georgia Southern University, she gained professional world experience which prepared her for life after college. She was the editor-of-design for the Honors Program’s newsletter and magazine, Honors @ Georgia Southern. This experience allowed Robelo to be creative, while maintaining and promoting the image of the Georgia Southern University Honors Program. This experience provided her with tools such as time-management, mastery of new software, and an enhanced design aesthetic.

“Working for the Honors Program prepared me in many ways for the professional setting and my current job. One of my duties at Ben Silver is to design the catalogs which has a lot of similarities to designing the Honors Program magazine. Similar to Ben Silver, every addition of the magazine brought a new challenge, and I enjoyed taking those challenges and getting creative with them,” she said.

Throughout Robelo’s life, she has always been inspired by the arts. From the age of six, she has been attending painting classes. Graphic design allowed her to devote her creative energy into her job while also being her passion. She said, “Graphic design is my love, and I enjoy every second of the process from brainstorming, to creating and designing, to seeing the final product which is the most rewarding part and puts a big smile in my face!”

Honors Students ‘Fight Dirty’

Tybee Island is home to beautiful beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. However, it is also riddled with cigarette butts, plastic bags and glass bottles. Tybee Beach Cleanup is a volunteer-based origination who fights dirty.” They work to keep beaches clean and free from any man-made materials. The Armstrong State University Honors Program and the Georgia Southern University Honors Program joined forces to help this organization remove litter from the beach. On October 21, the students spent their Saturday morning engaging with one another while serving their local community.

Hannah Dorough and Carly Mathis take out the trash on Tybee.

The students focused on the north side of the island looking for any material, unnatural to the surrounding environment. This included cigarette buds, soda cans, water bottles, pieces of foam, shards of plastic and glass. The local community organization, Tybee Beach Cleanup, made the event possible. They provided the buckets and trash grabbers. Afterwards, Kathryn Propst the representative for the club helped the students organize the trash into recyclables and waste.

Georgia Southern University Honors Student, Hannah Dorough (psychology ’18) said, “The generosity of the Tybee Beach Cleanup organization was amazing. They provided everything we needed because the main goal for them is keeping the beach clean. It was an awesome experience to be able to spend my morning supporting a great cause while getting to know other Armstrong State Students.”

Georgia Southern University and Armstrong State University are currently undergoing a consolidation of the two schools. Once this consolidation is complete, the Honors Program at both campuses will be united. This event gave students the chance to get to know and to connect with one another.

Four Honors Students, who participated at the beach cleanup, Hannah Dorough, Morgan Gallahue (Biology ’18), Kaley Powers (cell and molecular biology ’18) and Linnea Ryan (history ’19) also had the opportunity to participate in the Honors Consolidation Panel at the Southern Regional Honors Council Conference in 2017. They focused on the challenges and benefits of uniting the two Honors Programs from a student’s perspective.

“Our history of all working together last year allowed for this event to come together. I am happy that we were able to get both Honors Programs together to enhance the future and spirit of the new university. This beach cleanup gave us the chance to really get to know one another, so I think this event was a success,” Powers said.

Friendship is the main goal of the students from both Honors Programs. The consolidation will allow for more bonds to be made between the two groups. Elias Frazier (psychology ’17), a student at Armstrong State University addressed the importance of more events like this. “We all came out here to do the same thing: clean up the beach and give back to the community. We are all college students, and our lives can get a bit stressful sometimes, so it was nice to enjoy the beautiful weather. I was able to spend time with my friends and meet some new people from Georgia Southern University. We need to really start getting to know each other before the consolidation is complete because then the transition will be easier,” he said.

Talk About… Pop Culture

No one has ever said “What happens in the first year stays in the first year,” and this is abundantly clear for the students who have taken Dra. Leticia McGrath’s honors section of the first-year seminar, Hispanic Culture through Film, these past few years. Not only has she stayed in contact with her former students, but she has continued to encourage them in their professional development.

Last spring, she organized several students to propose presentations at the Popular Culture Association of the South/American Culture Association of the South 2017 Conference (PCAS/ACAS), and four of her students, Caleb Beatty (electrical engineering ’20), Emily Pressler (Spanish and French ’19), Amanda Kate Wood (writing and linguistics ’20) and Maygen Martinez (human resource management ’20) participated in the conference in October. Dra. McGrath’s help throughout the entire process of applying for the conference, and creating their projects helped each student gain an invaluable experience.

Caleb Beatty, Maygen Martinez, Amanda Kate Wood, and Emily Pressler in Savannah.

“Every year I push my students in my FYE classes to develop their research outside of the classroom, and one year I traveled with 8 students to Washington DC and Richmond, VA to present at a conference, and another year I traveled with students to Asheville, NC. I am pleased to see that there are students who embrace the added challenge of researching and presenting their findings in a public and professional manner. Given that they are doing so without any grade attached certainly shows they are taking the initiative to explore topics in a more meaningful way,” said Dra. McGrath.

The PCAS/ACAS 2017 Conference in Savanah, Georgia focused on presenting topics or events common in popular culture while molding them into academic presentations. Each student focused on an aspect of American culture under the lenses of entertainment, politics and profanity.

Martinez and Wood worked together to create a joint presentation, “Pawnee: The Greatest Community on Television.” Both of them are fans of the NBC television show, Parks and Recreation. The show focuses on the inner-workings of a community in a city government setting. The idea of blending entertainment and research intrigued them. They were able to use their favorite group of misfit characters to analyze how a community works at the fundamental level.

“A community was built amongst these characters by encouraging tolerance and establishing deep, shared emotional connections. We analyzed several aspects of the show, including: the growth of individual characters as well as of the group as a whole, the creation of shared values amongst the characters, and the examination of clear community building aspects throughout the series. Through these examinations, we can pinpoint specific ways in which the community was built amongst the citizens of Pawnee and the employees of their municipal government offices. Then we hypothesized how these methods would affect a real life town,” said Martinez.

Martinez and Wood did not implement their findings onto an official community. However, both are community leaders at Georgia Southern University. The research can help further build relationships with their residents creating a tight-knit community. Their work on campus parallels with their research for the PCAS/ACAS Conference.

Beatty’s project, “This is not a Safe Space,” focuses on the idea that safe spaces are not actually beneficial to universities and other public spaces. These designated spaces are infringing on first amendment rights, limiting creativity and prohibiting classroom discussion.

“In a time, when one in four Americans think the First Amendment is dangerous, there is merely an illusion of free thought and self-expression. Safe spaces and political correctness have grown into their hyperbolic form to the point that a person must constantly question what you say in an effort to not offend others. My presentation covered how universities and society in general have been negatively influenced by the idea of not offending,” he said.

This was Beatty’s first academic conference. There was a diverse range of presenters and attendees at the PCAS/ACAS conference from students to professionals with published research. This conference also allowed Beatty to study something outside his field of study. He said, “I was able to research an interesting subject that has nothing to do with my major. I personally like being a well-rounded person. After doing math and science all day for my electrical engineering degree, it was very beneficial to be able to break away from that and present on something that is important to me.”

Pressler researched the difference in the use of offensive language in Spanish and English, in her project: “WTF?!: Cursing trends in Spain and the United States through film.” She analyzed two films released in the same year, with similar stories, reviews, and popularity. She found that Spain’s use of profanity is more accepted and wide-spread, rather than America.

“I analyzed the frequency of words/phrases, content, context, etc. to compare overall use in both cultures through film. I selected Ocho Apellidos Vascos (2014) (“Spanish Affair” in English) from Spain and Two Night Stand (2014) from the United States, which are comparable in release date, rating, length, content and theme,” Pressler said. “What I found is that Spaniards curse with more frequency, have more varied vocabulary and arguably use words/phrases with greater significance than their United States counterparts.”

Pressler specifically created this project for the PCAS/ACAS 2017 Conference. However, this presentation has inspired her to continue researching this topic for her Honors Thesis. “I want to keep analyzing other linguistic characteristics of Spanish through further films and literature,” she said.

The Honors Program at Georgia Southern University encourages students to fully take advantage of every academic opportunity while attending college. These four student pushed themselves to make independent projects outside of class assignments. “Being a part of this prestigious program has challenged me to approach subjects to which I was once unknowledgeable. It has also lead me to exert myself more in my academics, such as presenting at this conference,” Wood said.

Competition in the Community

“Ten points to Gryffindor” brings memories of Harry Potter, Hogwarts, and Voldemort. However, Community Leaders (CL) within the Honors Living Learning Community (LLC) use similar phrases as the competition heats up in Centennial Place. Each CL has a different animal mascot designated to represent their floor within the building: otters, foxes, and turtles. Members can gain points for their floor when they attend Honors events such as trivia nights, floor meetings or information sessions on Honors Research. This is one of the many activities Honors Community Leaders have crafted to create a sense of community for Honors Students.

The purpose of a Community Leader is to act as a role model for their residents as they find their way in the new academic setting of college. This community is mostly compiled of incoming freshmen, so CLs focus on creating activities that will help the students adjust to college, such as scavenger hunts to learn the layout of campus or attending group fitness classes together at the RAC. For this school year, the Honors LLC has six Community Leaders: Taylor Close (French ‘20), Sophie Fleri (mechanical engineering, ‘19), Hugo Flores (electrical engineering ‘20), Morgan Gallahue (biology ’18), Bailey Kirk (mathematics ’18) and Abby Slattery (education ’18). Gallahue and Slattery are returning to the Honors CL position for the second year.

Gallahue said, “I was a resident in the Honors LLC as a freshman, and I made some of the most important friendships and connections within the LLC. I wanted to continue being involved in the community that offered me such great experiences my freshman year.”

A unique aspect about the Honors LLC is the Student Advisory Board (SAB). The SAB gives the students a platform to express their ideas for what they want to do in their community. Students have the chance to plan the events, gain leadership skills, and grow closer with their peers. This semester SAB is planning Trivia Nights, Cooking with Professors, Coffee Chat Nights, and a Christmas Party.

This is Close’s first year as CL at Georgia Southern University. She enjoyed participating in the events offered to her as a freshman, and now as a CL, she is able to promote similar events that inspired her to become a part of the Honors LLC. “I love seeing my residents excited about being involved and coming together as a floor to participate in events such as trivia. It means that I have created a space where they are comfortable and at home. My favorite part about the Honors LLC is having events that encompass the entire building because it creates a great community where students can live, work and succeed,” she said.

The Honors LLC is an invaluable resource for the freshmen class because they are living and working together with like-minded students whose goals are to succeed in a collegiate atmosphere. Many students are in the Honors sections of core classes, which provides them with the ability to create study groups with their neighbors living down the hall.

“My residents take initiative with their academics and use every resource that the LLC provides. Specifically, my students love the study rooms that are located on each floor. They make study groups well in advance for quizzes and exams. As CLs, we also create bulletin boards for our floor, and we try to incorporate useful tips for studying, time management, and note taking,” Slattery said.

The Honors CLs take their title as a role model very seriously because they lead by example. Three are peer leaders for the Honors section of the First Year Experience course. Two are Honors ambassadors. At least four have presented posters at the Honors Research Symposium as well as presented personal projects at regional and national conferences. Their residents can look to them as examples of how to balance extracurricular activities and academics.

For Fleri, her role as CL is more than a job, but rather a way to help her residents succeed during their first year at college. “I love hearing feedback from my residents about something I helped them with. I try to make their freshmen year the best it can be. I want my experiences with the Honors Program to help inspire them to push themselves both academically and socially. As a CL, it forces you to think beyond yourself and put others first.” she said.

This setting drives them to do more within the Honors LLC and with their peers. These students have more opportunities to get involved on campus, thanks to the continuous effort the CLs put towards creating and leading events for their residents.

“Living within the Honors LLC allows for students to be surrounded by compatible individuals who share similar drives and motivations, while still surrounding themselves with a diverse group of majors and backgrounds. The residents of the LLC are not only neighbors but classmates; this creates a close-knit community of students who share common experiences within the LLC, classes and the Honors Program as a whole,” said Gallahue.

Kirk had worked with upper classmen in her previous CL positions, but she has thoroughly enjoyed the transition to working with primarily freshman. “One of my favorite things about moving from upper classmen to freshmen is being able to watch them grow. Freshmen are more willing to participate and ask me questions ranging from what classes to take, to where to eat in Statesboro,” she said.

While Kirk has been able to watch her residents grow, Gallahue has seen herself grow as a CL. “This experience has helped me develop as a person and as a leader. Through this role, I have become more educated about social issues, more confident in my abilities as leader and have developed my interpersonal skills through interactions with my residents and coworkers. I have become a better person, and I hope that I can help better my residents through my position as a CL,” she said.

The CLs’ dedication to their job helps the students prosper. The Honors LLC has become a tight-knit family where students have gained lifelong friendships, irreplaceable connections with professors, and a greater appreciation for learning. The opportunity to be an Honors CL is an incredible experience that pushes these students to be their best selves not only for themselves but for their residents. This leadership experience helps one gain relationships with students, staff, supervisors, and professors because one must work with all of these different types of people in order to create an exceptional environment for a successful Living Learning Community.

Honors Art Receives a Standing Ovation

At the Dick Blick Gallery, Savannah residents browse art at their own pace, taking in every detail, feeling, and color. For the month of September, Blick Gallery hosted art from the recipients of Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art Scholarship at Georgia Southern University. The artists submitted personal projects that they created while on scholarship to form this year’s collection titled Ovation.

Two Georgia Southern University Honors Students, Elise Rustine (graphic design ’18) and Marian Trainor (2D and 3D studio art ’19) received this scholarship.  They had the opportunity to present their pieces of art at a public gallery. This professional setting outside of the university gave the students experience beyond what the classroom setting can provide. A career within the field of art requires relentless drive and belief in oneself. The Ovation Exhibition provided a setting for both students to create personal projects outside of the typical course assignments. They were able to challenge themselves to push the limit while making creative works of art.

The exhibition had art from an assortment of different forms such as animation, ceramics, drawing, graphic design, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture and metal work. Rustine and Trainor’s projects centered on photography and visual arts in terms of sculptures.

Rustine’s photography piece was titled “Windows into Glory.” She made a collage of photographs illustrating the beauty of the sky from different locations and times throughout the United States. She created a geometric and abstract pattern to form her overarching image of the sky.

“I believe that the sun and sky are examples of faithfulness represented through nature, so my goal was to portray my faith in my artwork and photography,” Rustine said.

Trainor’s aesthetic focuses on the wastefulness of man. She only works with used, second-hand or found objects because she does not want to support the over production of material goods. “A prehistoric mantra that ensured the survival of a species and was highly influential to the development of many ancient cultures was ‘waste no part of the animal.’ As a society, we no longer focus on efficiency. Instead, we excel at making waste,” she said.

For the Ovation Exhibition, she submitted an arrangement of “artifacts” from her independent show that she is in the process of developing. Dr. Julie McGuire, Professor of Art at Georgia Southern University, described the premise of Trainor’s independent show. “Currently, her focus is a large scale installation that delves into the life of a scorned and vengeful scientist-turned-drifter obsessed with the lives of invisible creatures. The installation is structured resembling an anthropological museum, focusing on the display of artifacts, writings, and samples that this self-created man collected over his life.”

Trainor also submitted pieces of sculptural costume jewelry. Her range in pieces showcases her strength to create diverse and new art. “I am a multimedia artist, so much of my work is made from a variety of mediums. This allows me to always be pushing myself to think of new innovations to evoke emotions through my art,” said Trainor.

The public setting, at the Blick Gallery, gave their work new exposure beyond their peers and professors. “I feel honored to participate in this event because it is not every day that your work is exhibited in a gallery in Savannah, Georgia. Blick Gallery allows for a diverse group of people to look at my art. I hope the viewers find it rewarding as well as thought provoking. I want my art to leave the world more beautiful than when I left it,” Rustine said.

Professional experiences, such as the Ovation Exhibition, are invaluable for a college student. Rustine and Trainor challenged themselves to push beyond what is expected of them. They trusted in themselves to create works of art that were true to them.

Trainor said, “Do not discourage yourself and be as passionate as possible. Passion is something you cannot fabricate because you must light your own fire by creating works authentic to who you are as an artist.”

University Honors Program • PO Box 8130 Statesboro, GA 30460 • (912) 478-7926