Doctoral Candidate Switches Course; Enrolls in MATC Graphic Design Program


January 01, 2014

Jennifer "Jen" Anderson is a self-professed rebel. She relishes doing the unexpected. A year ago, she proved that by dropping out of Marquette University's doctoral program in English literature after four years of study and enrolling in MATC's Graphic Design Associate Degree program instead.

"I had finished all the coursework and written a proposal for my dissertation at Marquette," she said. "But all of a sudden, I didn't feel like I was on the right path. I felt I needed a more creative career option.

"I have always been intrigued by the idea of advertising and design," she explained. "I like the challenge of taking the mundane and making it attractive enough to get people's attention. Some of the most boring products can get attention if they are creatively packaged. Shock value is a selling point in advertising. I like ‘pushing the envelope.'"


Jen Anderson poses in front of an ad she designed.

Anderson also loves the creativity involved in graphic design and is excited about using design computer programs that allow her a great deal of flexibility. "There are endless possibilities when you use programs like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign," she said.


Anderson works on a computer while MATC design instructor Bob Stocki, design student Lamar Fenner and MATC design instructor Jackie Sun (left to right) look on.

Design and Writing Skills a Marketable Combination

Anderson attended the University of Wisconsin-Barron County for two years, and then transferred to Idaho State University, where she earned her bachelor's degree. She then earned a master's degree in English from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale before enrolling in Marquette's doctoral program. Her earlier studies helped prepare her for a career in advertising, Anderson said. "My background in English is helpful in copywriting. I'm finding that my skills in design and writing are an unusual combination. I'm kind of a ‘one-woman shop.' I think that will make me more marketable in the future."

She sought an internship quickly after enrolling at MATC. "I wanted to make sure I liked graphic design before I got too far into the program," Anderson said. Lightburn, a design firm in Milwaukee, offered her an internship as a content specialist, writing and editing copy. They soon hired her as a regular employee. "Now they are starting to groom me to do design work," she said. Lightburn also cross trains their designers in computer programming and coding, so Anderson believes she is getting a very well-rounded experience.


Anderson was interviewed by TV-12's Kidd O'Shea, who covered MATC's Open House in November. Also pictured are design student Joe Tenaglia (left) and MATC instructor Craig Smallish.

Family Supportive of Career Change

Anderson's family was supportive of her decision to leave Marquette's doctoral program and enter the world of graphic design and advertising. Her brother, twin sister and father all work information technology, while her mother is a stay-at-home mom. "My family all went to technical colleges," she said. "They all like computers. They didn't really understand why I wanted to pursue English literature in the first place. They were all excited when I came back into their realm."

Anderson is happy with her decision to study graphic design. "It doesn't even seem like work because I enjoy it so much," she said. "I don't dread doing my projects. I am so interested in what we are studying that I do extra work and look things up that are not even part of my assignments."

It doesn't even seem like work because I enjoy it so much. I don't dread doing my projects. I am so interested in what we are studying that I do extra work and look things up that are not even part of my assignments.

Jennifer Anderson MATC Student

She is very impressed with the amount of lab time offered the students. "We have tons of time to work with the instructors nearby so we can ask questions while we're working," she said. She is also grateful for the support of the instructors. "I've found that instructors like Bob Stocki and [Tairan] Jackie Sun really go out of their way to be helpful to students who show a real interest in the field," she said.

Her switch to MATC's graphic design program brought with it other benefits. "You can get in and complete a program quickly," she said. "And MATC education is affordable. I wanted something that wouldn't add to my student loan debt."

For more information on MATC's Graphic Design Associate Degree Program, visit:


Anderson and fellow MATC design students share a laugh.