School beautification project shows student skills


Assistant Professor of Design Chris Murphy (standing) and members of the Design United team discuss the Capital Christian School beautification project.

Ashlee Larrison Story
Pictures of Ralph Freso
GCU News Desk

Students give back to students.

It’s a simple idea that lies at the heart of all things Grand Canyon University. It’s also a concept that continues to make waves in communities near and far.

And that was the exact motivation behind Canyon Specials’ latest collaboration with College of Arts and Media student-run advertising agency, united design.

Last year, Canyon Promotions was connected with Capital Christian School (CCS) in Sacramento, Calif., after school officials expressed interest in visually revamping their campus and brand. With 20 years of experience in similar projects, Canyon Enterprise Division Manager Renate Spilger knew exactly how to realize his new client’s vision in a way that could benefit both his students and GCU students.

Like many professionals, Spilger sees the gap between classroom theory and real-world application. In order to best prepare students for careers after college, this professional application of their skills is essential. That’s why she made it her mission to contact the assistant professor of design Chris Murphy and begins a partnership with its Design United students.

A window treatment designed by GCU students is part of Capital Christian School’s beautification project.

“I said, ‘Here’s a perfect opportunity to pair up,’ especially because we had a lot of small clients and other school partners,” Spilger said. “It turned out to be an absolutely perfect match.”

Since discussions on Capital Christian’s beautification project began in the fall, students have designed several different pieces to help bring the school’s bare walls to life. From there, the plan was for a team from Canyon Promotions to add the designs to the current campus.

Some of the designs include a timeline graphic, wraparound and wall graphics, and a selfie wall.

Every idea presented by Design United students was a home run, Spilger said.

“The project they showed was close to realizing it from the start,” she said. “We presented them with an outline of the project like, ‘This is what the client wants,’ and they took that information and translated it into beautiful designs.”

What’s better than working with a dedicated team and receiving awesome designs?

Simple. It’s free.

“What president (Brian) Muller What I really liked was the fact that we offer this to the school at no cost because our students enroll in the UNV-430 program and they get internship credits for all of this program,” he said.

But not all Design United students use the experience as an opportunity to earn internship credits. For some, it’s a volunteer opportunity to help a good cause and gain more experience for their resume.

Nicole Nowakowski, a member of the design team, reviews the brand guidelines.

It’s the drive and enthusiasm for the project that really mean something to Murphy.

“They are really inspiring, how they devote their time and their talents to it. And I think that’s just a characteristic of a GCU student, from what I’ve seen,” he said. “They’re all really excited about it, and for me as an educator, it’s a great way to see them providing service to the community.

“I’m really proud of them.”

For Samira Wolinwho works as a student designer volunteer on the project, it was an opportunity to reconnect with some of the skills she learned in high school, having worked on similar beautification projects for her old campus.

“Having to do this in a professional setting for an entire school and just pursuing this passion that I’ve had for so many years is a really special opportunity,” she said. “It’s really inspiring, especially for this kind of project, just to see all the passion and skill of the different students and faculty and all the collaboration that’s going on, just because the design can often be quite an individual task when it’s is about missions.”

Despite obtaining internship credits, Antoine Guidice and Brennan Ziegler always felt passionate about giving back to the Christian community.

“I really like that we were working with a Christian school, because I could work on different vinyl art that incorporates Bible verses,” Ziegler said. “It’s really good to incorporate core Christian values ​​into this beautification campaign.”

Members of the GCU design team – left to right, Samira Wollin, Anthony Giudice, Nicole Leake, Brennan Ziegler and Nicole Nowakowski – discuss ideas for the beautification project.

The most memorable part for Giudice was how trusting the GCU team was.

“I think it’s really cool that the school trusts a group of students to make their school a lot nicer,” he said. “The fact that it’s a Christian school and the fact that we can make it much prettier just adds extra value to our work.”

It’s the start of a relationship that Spilger hopes will continue for the foreseeable future.

And if the experience of working with Canyon Promotions and Design United over the past few months has been any indication, the feeling is mutual.

“Our partnership is a collaborative effort, as Canyon Promotions listened to our vision and identified with us in the changes we wanted to see in our culture on campus,” said Lynne Wang, Marketing Director of Capital Christian. “We want our guests to set foot on our campus and know that our school is student-centric – that they are seen, known and loved. We are grateful that GCU understands our message and appreciate their ability to identify with the GenZ culture!

“It was refreshing to work with a partner who really watched over our school and knew the challenges we faced last year with the pandemic.”

It’s a win-win. The perfect scenario.

“You just can’t put a price on that,” Giudice said.

Contact Ashlee Larrison at (602) 639-8488 Where [email protected].


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