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Ferris Graphic Design Alum Taking Command in AIGA Conference in Phoenix

Sarah SawtellA recent graduate of Ferris State University’s Graphic Design program, Sarah Sawtell believes she had a head start on her competition by virtue of the extra work she invested to hone her skills – work that took place outside of the classroom.

Now, the Temperance native looks forward to putting those experiences to work as she heads to Arizona this week to participate in the “Pivot” AIGA Design Conference in Phoenix, beginning Thursday, Oct. 13 and running through Sunday, Oct. 16. At the AIGA Design Conference, Sawtell is scheduled to be a participant in Command X: Season 3, a design reality show that features seven up-and-coming designers – all under the age of 26 – who step into the spotlight in front of 1,500 peers. Those peers include people that they have admired and perhaps potential employers. Throughout the conference, the contestants will be challenged with a series of design assignments to complete and present on the main stage within 24 hours.

“A ton of young designers from all over America entered to compete and I’m only one of seven to be chosen,” said Sawtell, a May 2011 graduate who already has fulfilled an internship at Herman Miller and been hired in September at Concept A, a Grand Haven-based design studio, at the conclusion of the internship. “I think it says a lot about our Graphic Design program at Ferris and how much it has done for me.”

The Command X: Season 3 competition is a major challenge, but it is one that Sawtell is ready to embrace. She remains confident that her experiences at Ferris have prepared her for this type of unique and potentially career-boosting opportunity.

“Ferris gave me the skills I needed to compete and market myself as an individual,” she said. “We spent the last month of our classes practicing our interviewing skills and scrutinizing our resumes, which is something I think a lot of seniors take for granted.”

Sawtell’s activities inside and outside of the classroom, in addition to her work as a student in Ferris’ University Advancement and Marketing division, she believes helped shape her as a leader that is ready to take on the type of challenge she will face with Command X: Season 3.

“My time as president of the AIGA Ferris student group, and working as a junior designer on campus at UAM, played a huge role in my development,” she said. “I had two years of experience under my belt before I even graduated. It is a major resume booster.”

The competition aside, Sawtell looks forward to the conference as an opportunity to interact with top-flight designers as she breaks into the field as a young professional.

“I will meet some of the most famous designers that walk this Earth and get advice from them on my work,” she said. “It has been an honor to be chosen, and very humbling, too.”

Each contestant in the Command X: Season 3 competition will receive a complimentary registration to “Pivot,” the host of the conference. Additionally, the winner will be awarded $1,000 in cash, Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Master Collection, Linotype Originals Library, provided by Monotype Imaging, Pantone Essentials with Effects bundle and a subscription to Shutterstock with access to more than 15 million stock images. Cash prizes also will be presented for second-and third-place finishers