Kevin Garber, director of alumni relations and MNU’s new yearbook advisor, has almost 20 years of experience in professional collegiate yearbook sales. His goal for this year is to advance MidAmerica’s yearbook, Conestoga, to the traditionally collegiate level.

“We just want to raise the level of excellence,” Garber said. “We want our yearbook to be something MNU students are proud of.”

One of the major changes will be the quality and size of the physical book, which will now require this yearbook to be distributed at the beginning of the 2016 fall semester instead of at the end of the 2016 Spring Semester as it has been before.

This change, Garber said, will allow the yearbook to be larger, have an updated cover, increased page count and ability to contain pages about events later in the second semester as well as coverage of graduation for the first time.

Garber said that returning students will be able to receive their yearbooks when they return to MNU after summer break, and students who graduate this year will have their yearbooks mailed to them.

All undergraduate students will receive a yearbook with the cost covered in their tuition, Garber said.

Jazmine Parra-Navarro, a junior business administration major and managing editor of the yearbook, helps decide what goes into the book, assigns photos to be taken and chooses which yearbook staff members will write and design specific pages.

With the increase in size of this year’s book, Parra-Navarro said that in addition to coverage of events such as Welcome Week and Homecoming, many more aspects of campus life will receive coverage. One new section will be on student service and will include spreads on various campus ministries.

yearbookKevin Garber and Rebecca Smith help yearbook staff edit photographs, write content, and design pages for the Conestoga during a Monday night class. Photo by Renee DeVault

“We really wanted to highlight ways that students are serving,” Parra-Navarro said. “That’s important to us. It’s part of who we are.”

In addition to service, the new yearbook will be able to include other features such as national tournaments, the campus caterers and individual stories about students and their MidAmerica experience, Parra-Navarro said.

Rebecca Smith, senior graphic design major and design editor of the yearbook, said she is very excited about the direction the new book is going in.

“Design wise, we are trying to give the book a more collegiate look,” Smith said. “Honestly, I am just so proud of what we have so far.”

This emphasis on a collegiate look is Garber’s reason for implementing a dress code for students in their yearbook portrait. He said he wanted students in future years to be proud of their picture.

Scholastic, the company hired to take portraits this year, will electronically match every picture with a name. This will hopefully eliminate mistakes in spelling and name-to-picture matching in the final product.

Parra- Navarro said that in their continued attempts to eliminate the possibility of errors in the yearbook’s final draft, an outside editor has been hired to control for possible internal error.

Another push this year is to have all traditional undergraduates and faculty members pictured, Garber said. Partnering with the marketing department has given yearbook staff access to nearly 100% of faculty pictures, and scheduling freshmen yearbook photos during freshmen seminar has significantly increased the number of freshmen that will be pictured.

“We want Conestoga to be a yearbook that people are excited to get, and also excited to keep for years to come,” Smith said.