Diego Melendez ’12, Graphic Design

Prepared for the Real World of Design

In his design studio class at NVU-Lyndon, Diego Melendez ’12 was faced with a common challenge in the graphic design field: accepting a client’s feedback.

In one of his first projects at the studio, Diego, a graphic design major with a print concentration, worked hard creating a poster he thought the client, a local nonprofit, would love. When the client chose another student’s poster instead and explained why, “I was devastated. That really helped you understand that not everything you make is going to get accepted. That was one of my key takeaways,” Diego says. “The class prepared us for the real world.”

Now a graphic designer at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, the skills Diego built at NVU help him in his job every day.

At NVU, He Gained the Skills He Needed for Career Success

In the NVU design studio — where students worked in an agency setting for real clients — Diego practiced teamwork and developed strengths in design fundamentals including typography, fonts, logos, and branding. “I also got more experience pitching ideas to clients, which was very important because that’s how the design world really is,” he says. “You have to know how to present without being too nervous.”

While at NVU, Diego also worked full time as a designer at St. Johnsbury Academy nearby. He had earned an associate degree in graphic design in another state, but “There’s something about having a bachelor’s degree that made me feel stronger mentally. It boosted my creativity and confidence and inspired me to do more,” Diego says.

The boost to his creativity has paid off. Since he graduated from NVU, Diego’s work has been published in the magazines HOW Design and Graphic Design USA and recognized by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals and the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

Professors’ Achievements in the Industry Inspire Students

In choosing NVU-Lyndon, Diego was drawn to the small classes. “That made the professors more approachable,” he says, “as opposed to being in an auditorium with 400 students. The professors are flexible. They want to work with you. That was something I really appreciated…as well as how flexible they were in accepting my associate degree.”

In addition to teaching, some of Diego’s professors worked in the field in illustration and typography. “Seeing them as professors and also designers on the side was inspiring,” says Diego, who has his own design business. “That really motivated me and opened my eyes to new possibilities. It told me that this is a really fun field in general.”  

What excites him most about design is the ability to be creative and explore new concepts. “I care about the final outcome of the work, having that fresh-printed piece, or a graphic element that’s in a video, on a website, on a T-shirt, or displayed on the side of a building that gets seen by hundreds of people,” he says.

One career accomplishment Diego is proud of is redesigning St. Johnsbury Academy’s main logo and athletic logos, among others. The logos are scattered around campus, including on the sign at the school entrance and the gym floor. His work also is represented outside the U.S. — in the logo on a building and other signage at St. Johnsbury Academy Jeju in South Korea.

“When you’re designing something, you want to make sure it stands the test of time,” he says. “That’s where I find most of my joy.”