ENMU Students Win Awards at NACA Conference

Katherine Perelas
Katherine Perelas

ENMU Students Win Awards at NACA Conference

n a c a award

Students from Eastern New Mexico University's Associated Students Activities Board (ASAB) attended the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) Central Regional Conference in Arlington, Texas, from Oct. 3-6. At the conference, they found out that two graphic designers in the ENMU Office of Campus Life, Katherine Perelas and Ashley Parker, had received awards for their work: the "2019 Medium School Outstanding Student Designed Apparel Award" and the "2019 Medium School Best One-Color Poster/Flyer Award."

Katherine is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Graphic Design and Bachelor of Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing, and Ashley Parker is majoring in graphic design with a minor in computer science.

The award-winning students share what this honor means to them:

Tell us about the awards you earned at NACA. How did you enter the competition?

Katherine: Before we attended NACA, there was an online submissions page for graphics from our school. The deadline for submissions was before NACA, and I simply filled out the needed information and attached digital graphics. Physical versions were also brought to the conference for other schools to look at, and for judges to see in person.

I found out I won at the conference at the awards banquet during the last day of NACA. All schools were treated to a nice dinner, thank you announcements were given from staff and awards were presented from judges. They presented each category and named the school that won. Our school was called up twice in quick succession, so it was a thrill being able to accept another award without having time to sit down yet.

Ashley: I got involved with the NACA design competition just by starting my job at Campus Life. One of our responsibilities is to curate designs throughout the semester to submit to the competition with ASAB. Kathy and I both are pretty competitive people, so we usually look at the competition categories early in the year and try to tailor some of our designs to those categories. This year, one of my designs was chosen as the winner of the "2019 Medium School Best One-Color Poster Award." The award was announced during a session at NACA, and Kathy and my bosses started sending me messages about it immediately. I was thrilled.

What did winning the award mean to you?

Katherine: I won the "2019 Medium School Outstanding Student Designed Apparel Award." The award means a lot to me as it validates my work; it lets me know that someone likes what I do and to keep pushing forward. Although I'm excited that I won the award, I also know that winning an award is not a sole determinant or predictor of someone's success. Winning the award was a great pick-me-up though, and it motivates me to work harder and to keep learning.

Ashley: Kathy and I are both seniors, and last year our designs didn't win anything at NACA, so we put extra effort into our designs this year. An award like this will help us both as we start to look for jobs, as well. It was also very meaningful simply as an acknowledgement of the work we put into ASAB and how much we've grown in this job.

Describe how you created your award-winning artwork.

Katherine: My shirt design was created for ASAB to advertise the club to members and to give non-members an idea of the purpose of ASAB; it's simply a fun club for college students. I was inspired by graffiti art and modern design to appeal to students, so I melded the two together to stylize the word "ASAB."

Ashley: The theme for this year's Casino Night was "The Great Gatsby," so I pulled inspiration from the artwork of the 1920s. A lot of the art from the period is very geometric and uses rich or metallic colors to give a sense of formality and luxury. I tried to incorporate those things into my design. I also knew that we would need a single-color poster for NACA, so I settled on a navy and white color scheme. Against the navy, the white almost appears metallic. I incorporated hand-drawn playing cards into the geometric patterns to reference the casino part of the event. The central icon of the moon with the words "Casino Night" was actually from a previous poster design I made but was unable to use. The final poster for this year's event was displayed across campus and on social media as an advertisement.

Describe your NACA experience.

Katherine: We left for NACA from Portales at 3 a.m. with all our stuff packed. We had quite a few graphics with us piled on top of each other that we were excited to show at the graphics competition. When we got there, it was a pleasant surprise that the location of the conference was also Arlington's esports stadium!

The first day of the conference was packed with watching special guests like comedians, poets, magicians, educational speakers and more perform on stage. We had some occasional breaks for food and went right back to watching performers until about 9 p.m., when marketplace opened. Marketplace is a large room where much of the entertainment for NACA set up booths to interact with the students. There were many booths to speak with the comedians, magicians and more that went on stage, as well as some miscellaneous booths. These booths include things like smashing plates, getting your caricature drawn, receiving custom spray-painted t-shirt designs and much more. Several school's submissions for the design competition were displayed nicely for all to see at marketplace, too. We brought so many graphics that we had a whole table dedicated to one of our events.

n a c a actress award

Afterward, the coordinators would all gather at a special event in the nearby hotel for NACA at between 10 and 11 p.m., while our advisors tried booking entertainment. For the first day, the special event was a murder mystery. I got one of the main roles as Katen Ashley, the unbelievably clumsy and awkward film assistant. I won an award for best actress that night! After this is all over, we make our way back to our hotel at around midnight to discuss who we are interested in bringing to campus and when. It would be around 1-2 a.m. when this is all over, and then we wake up bright and early at 7 a.m the next day.

For NACA day two, we woke up early for a school swap at around 8 a.m., where we swapped various merch items across schools for ideas. For NACA days two and three, there were professional development lectures aimed at helping organizations like ASAB succeed. These lectures took place in the morning, and after lunch the day resumed as normal; there were performers to watch, at around 9 p.m. there was marketplace, between 10 and 11 p.m. there was a random special event and at midnight we were back in our hotel and discussing booking performers. I attended the lectures "Marketing Round Table: Steal This Idea" and "How to Get Your Dream Turnout For Lectures" the second day. I also attended the lectures "Oof, Social Media," "Creative Digital Marketing & Social Media" and "But Only Three People Showed Up!". I wanted to focus my lectures around social media, marketing and turnout. I believe these lectures could help me professionally, both in school and outside of school.

There were several neat moments from NACA. Our school had a great deal of energy, so we became well-known around the conference quickly. One of our coordinators was repeatedly picked to come on stage, went up on a talent show where he juggled willing student's phones and privately modeled our merchandise along with another coordinator for photos. There was also a public modeling show that all schools could participate in, and one of our brave coordinators went up and modeled. She slayed the competition! Our group also experienced a strong bonding moment after a speaker asked his crowd to confront their past. This experience stuck with our group and helped us to open up and bond with each other in ways I couldn't see coming before attending NACA.

We met and befriended several people from other schools and exchanged information on how to make our organization work better for students.

At the awards banquet, I was surprised to find that our school had not only won an award but won two of them!

Ashley: Unfortunately, only one designer is taken to NACA each year, so I didn't attend the event.

How will you bring the lessons you learned from NACA back to ENMU?

Katherine: I would like to try applying the lessons I learned from NACA to the organizations I'm a part of at ENMU. The lessons learned at NACA go beyond application for just ASAB and are very versatile; they can help with the issues many student orgs are facing and can even help in a professional setting where you want people to attend events or lectures.

Ashley: While I haven't personally attended NACA, every year Kathy brings back pictures, promotional ideas and new graphic trends that we both try to incorporate into our work. We serve students across the campus, so things that affect us and our artwork, ultimately affect every student on campus and how they are receiving information. We, along with Communication Services, have an impact on how ENMU is perceived in the community, to strangers, prospective students, alumni and current students.

n a c a poster award
Ashley's award-winning poster.

How long have you been involved in the Office of Campus Life? What is your job title, and what are your responsibilities?

Katherine: I've been involved in the Office of Campus life for over two years now. My job title is lead graphic artist of Campus Life. My responsibilities include managing all Campus Life graphic requests and assigning requests to other designers; designing all ASAB event graphics as well as miscellaneous graphics under Campus Life; designing graphics for Dawg Days, a summer event all incoming freshman must attend; filling out graphic request forms and sending requests for printing; retrieving printed graphics and delivering work within a designated time period; and working part-time work during the school year and being the sole graphic artist to work full-time during the summer.

I was promoted to lead graphic artist in January 2018. I worked as graphic artist for the University from August to December of 2017.

Ashley: I have been a graphic designer at Campus Life since January 2018. I create graphics for student organizations and departments on campus to help them communicate to their audiences. I've worked with all sorts of groups, from Senate to Spanish Club. Depending on the client's needs, I design posters, promotional material, t-shirts, awards and all sorts of other things.

How is this job preparing you for your future career? What career are you looking to pursue?

Katherine: I'm looking to become a full-time creative when I graduate, whether that be working as a graphic designer, an art director or a social media marketing specialist. Ultimately, I would like to become a creative director, but I may need more experience before going into that field. This job is preparing me for my future career by developing the skills needed to succeed in those fields. This includes learning software knowledge, but also knowing how to communicate with clients, how to manage a workload, how to direct others or even how to learn effectively.

Ashley: I'm hoping to get a job for a small graphic design firm and use my skills to help people communicate their ideas. The biggest things this job has helped me learn are how to work with clients and how to create on a strict deadline.

n a c a shirt design
Katherine's award-winning design.

How long have you been involved in ASAB? What is your role in ASAB?

Katherine: I've been a member of ASAB for three years now. For two of those years, I've been on their board as their graphic artist, and last year I worked as their marketing coordinator.

As their coordinator of graphic arts, I communicate with the board and help brainstorm what graphics they would need, relay that information to my graphic artist and deliver graphics for display. This role is greatly connected to the lead graphic artist of Campus Life position but is optional and considered a separate role. It was through this position that I was able to attend NACA in 2019 for their graphics competition.

As marketing coordinator, I have marketing duties as well as required member duties to the organization. These include the following: ensuring students know about upcoming events through all mediums; managing and creating all posts for ASAB's social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat; promoting and creating reminders for events through these sites and in-person through tabling with graphics to ensure student attendance; taking over the official ENMU Snapchat for larger events and videotaping the event, photographing all events and uploading files to the Campus Life shared drive; hanging up print graphics around campus; reserving a table in populated areas to hand out graphics and promote our events; and coming up with creative ways to market events, like inking signs or chalking streets and sidewalks.

Some fun facts: I was the sole recipient of the "ASAB Coordinator of the Year" award in April 2019. I increased the workload of the position substantially since joining, and a marketing assistant was hired to assist in managing said increased workload. I attended NACA in 2018 to obtain further knowledge on marketing strategies, graphics and miscellaneous knowledge on how to run an organization.

My duties as an ASAB member include helping set up and take down decorations, chairs and tables after events; notifying others of events and being determined to help events reach their goals in student attendance and participant satisfaction; and attending weekly meetings to discuss upcoming events.

Ashley: I'm actually not directly involved in ASAB, but I've been creating graphics for them since I started my job at Campus Life. I probably work with about 15-20 ASAB events per semester. Each event gets a main poster graphic, as well as marketing collateral such as social media graphics, super posters, lawn signs and handbills. For some events, we'll also create things like tickets or awards. In addition to the events, we also help ASAB with recruitment materials like buttons, lanyards and t-shirts. I personally really love making buttons for ASAB.

Which skills have you built thanks to ASAB?

Katherine: ASAB helped me build many skills. I learned how to best communicate with others to advertise events, how to get people excited for an event, how to improve my public speaking, decision-making, time management and leadership skills. I learned how to break out of my shell. Being a part of this organization has helped me to be my best self, putting my best foot forward, along with several wonderful people who do the same.

Ashley: Working with ASAB helped me learn to be flexible and more creative. While the ASAB team is very good at getting us information early, it's not unusual for changes to be made after the graphics requests get turned in, occasionally quite close to the deadline. There are also sometimes multiple people who have to approve the designs once we finish them. I've had to learn how to calmly adjust in those situations and be patient with the changes. Also, since many of the events reoccur year after year, I've had to learn to really push myself creatively so that we're not just turning out the same graphics again and again.

View photos from the NACA conference.

n a c a student group