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KC Creative

Creative Roles for Three Pioneers in Kansas City

By Carol (Knight '81, MA '08) Best and Katy Ward (’14)

Creative alumni at different stages of their careers take a look at how MNU made a difference in where they are today.

Designing for the NFL

Marketing and graphic design major Caitlin Wienck (’14) completed the internship of a lifetime in her senior year. She was a graphic designer for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Topeka, Kan., native first applied online. The Chiefs asked Caitlin to continue in the process by redesigning the team’s Red Friday logo and another logo of her choice. Excited by the opportunity and her love for design, Caitlin got to work.

After submitting her designs and being interviewed, Caitlin was chosen for the position and started her internship in October 2013. 

During one of the Chiefs’ best seasons in several years, Caitlin first gained experience beyond the design world. She escorted VIPs to the field during pregame activities and gave radio broadcast tours at Arrowhead Stadium during games. She also had the opportunity to watch the games from the end zones.

When off season hit, Caitlin got to work in the Chiefs’ office with design and marketing projects.

“Sometimes it’s graphic design and other times it is copyediting articles,” she says.

Caitlin designed the medals for the 5k “Finish on the 50” race, the Chiefs’ annual run/walk where participants finish the race on the 50-yard line at Arrowhead Stadium. She also designed the Mini Chief to Work Day promotions for the day Chiefs’ employees bring their children to work. Whether it was creating backgrounds for the Chiefs’ website or Arrowhead event signage and posters, she’s loved the work.

Recently a vice president told Caitlin she did a great job with the Mini Chief to Work Day promotion.

“It was reaffirming when he complimented me,” Caitlin says. “This internship is exactly like something I want to do for the rest of my life, so it was great hearing that I am doing a good job.”

At MNU, Caitlin honed her skills as Associated Student Government publicity director for two years, MNU marketing office design intern and through freelance design work. She says this essential graphic design experience helped her land the Chiefs internship. 

Recently Caitlin accepted a full-time graphic design job with the Oakland Raiders NFL team in Oakland, Calif. She’s excited to move across the country and take on new challenges. 

“From the start, Caitlin has been a dedicated artist,” says Brian Merriman, graphic design professor. “She came into the program knowing what she wanted to do and had the talent to make those dreams a reality. She puts a lot of time into studying and learning. Her dedication and talent make for an exceptional artist.”

Writing Copy at Fire Engine

“Advertising has become so seamlessly integrated into daily life that people don’t even seem to notice it anymore!” exclaims Deanna Evans (’08).

When the English major graduated from MNU, she did not realize how her life would be influenced by the marketing profession.

“I graduated at just about the worst time economically,” Deanna says. “I know some might say there’s no good time to graduate with an English degree, but 2008 was especially bad.”

Though she took a circuitous route to get there, working first in retail management then at a chiropractic office, Deanna was hired as a publications manager for Stewardship Ministries at the Church of the Nazarene Global Ministry Center. Putting her degree to work there for three years, Deanna gained the experience she needed to land a position as a copywriter at Fire Engine Design Studio, a subsidiary of Bernstein-Rein, a top advertising agency in Kansas City, Mo. 

“I write the words you see or hear in advertisements: magazine ads, promotional emails, radio commercials, social media, billboards, in-store signage, etc.,” Deanna explains.

Some of Deanna’s clients include Beauty Brands, Webster House, AIGA Kansas City, the Trent Green Family Foundation, KC Repertory Theatre and others.

“There are so many directions a student can go with an English degree. Some of my classmates are teachers, some are journalists, some are in marketing and some are outside the English field altogether,” Deanna says. “That said, it can be hard to feel fully prepared for a particular English-related career without having participated in a specialized program.”

That’s why Deanna says gaining experience in the real world is critical to finding success after graduation.  She recommends that current students stay up-to-date with the big ideas, brilliant thinkers and great work happening in their chosen field right now.

“Reach out to people you admire and see if you can meet with them for coffee to ask questions and learn from their expertise,” Deanna advises. “Attend community and industry events that are related to your career choice. In short, start networking now.”

Creating Custom Workspaces

He’s owned his own businesses, been a national sales manager and now is the sales manager for BA Designs, LLC, a contract office design and furnishings business in Kansas City, Mo. Sam Shelhorn (’91, MBA ’01), says at heart he’s a “sales guy.”

“Everything feels right when I’m on a sales call,” Sam adds. “Sitting down with a customer, finding out what they want to accomplish, seeing if we have solutions, that’s the best part of my day. People try to create a formula, a script, a procedure around sales. That never worked for me. Putting customers first and finding out what they want, instead of trying to sell them what you’ve got, makes a huge difference. 

Through their innovative approach to office design, BA Designs plans and furnishes spaces for restaurants, nonprofit organizations and tech companies.

During his sophomore year Sam learned he couldn’t just show up and make the grades he needed. He dropped out, married and went to work full time in sales. At a critical point in his career, a job fair at Sprint motivated him to enter MNU’s bachelor’s degree completion program.

“They said get in line A if you have a degree and line B if you don’t,” Sam says. “It didn’t take long for me to realize how much I needed that degree.”  

Enjoying college courses was a new experience for Sam. As a professional with a family, he appreciated what he was learning, even utilizing one of his college projects to “reinvent how his company went to market.” The result was a promotion to national sales manager. 

Ten years later, Sam and his wife, Patty, decided to open their own contract furniture dealership. Sam says he knew he needed more education to succeed. So he enrolled in the MBA program at MNU.

“I’d seen too many people go into business for themselves but fail because they didn’t have a good underpinning of finance,” Sam says. “Everything I did in that program pointed to owning my own business. Being in a class of professionals, drawing on each other’s experiences, and having conversations about how they handled situations in business, all helped.”

The Shelhorns enjoyed running two businesses for eight years and sold them in 2012. At BA Designs, Sam concentrates on coaching sales people and helping them provide furnishing solutions for office spaces for two to 2,000. He enjoys the process of being in on the design of a space, its construction and then its furnishings. Some clients he works with pick furniture based on its looks. Others have a vision for the space, how people will work in it and a strategic plan for its furnishings. Either way, providing great options for the customer is Sam’s proven method for success.

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