Alum Marisa McCabe talks about the top-notch education she received at UMass Dartmouth's College of Visual & Performing Arts.
As a student-athlete and a 2017 graduate with a BFA in Graphic Design and a BFA in Sculpture, UMass Dartmouth afforded me the opportunity to combine my passions of design, three-dimensional studies, photography, and sports.
While studying at the CVPA, I earned a BFA in Visual Design/Graphic Design as well as a BFA in 3D Studies/Sculpture. As a dual major, I was required to complete two theses projects in order to graduate. I chose to create two bodies of work focused on the same subject: The Cornification of America.
One highlight of my educational experience at UMass Dartmouth was having the opportunity to exhibit the body of work that I created for my Sculpture senior thesis at the New Bedford Art Museum. My research added depth to my portfolio, which enabled me to secure my current job.
Gaining experience abroad
In May 2017, I participated in Stir Copenhagen. This was an 11-day workshop in which I traveled to Denmark to study Scandinavian design by visiting select studios (e-Types and Kontrapunkt), museums, and architecture. I also participated in a two-day traditional sign painting intensive.
Complementing my studies with internships
I recognized the value of complementing my academic experience with a variety of internships. I gained vast experience as an intern with TL6 The Gallery, which is located in downtown New Bedford and owned and operated by two CVPA alumni. As a gallery intern, I performed a variety of tasks including creating promotional collateral, maintaining the gallery space, and providing assistance during installations/deinstallations.
I also interned with Gatlin’s Framing and Photography. At this internship, I assisted Mr. Gatlin in photographing artwork (both 2D and 3D) as well as observed his techniques and process for retouching/post-processing photos after the shoot.
One of my most multifaceted internship positions involved working with the Seven Hills Behavioral Health as a graphic designer and community health educator. In addition to creating promotional collateral for various programs and services, I doubled as a community health educator. As a community health educator, my tasks included organizing presentations, moderating groups, and participating in program recruitment.
I also did outreach in the community providing information and harm reduction resources to the local at-risk population. In September 2016, I was assigned to the team for Project YES. Organized by the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute and Seven Hills Behavioral Health, Project YES provides prevention services to youth and young adults ages 13–24. As a designer, I was able to create an identity unique to Project YES, which is used on flyers, brochures, business cards, clothing, and other promotional materials.
Benefiting from athletic involvement
I was a member of the Women’s Basketball team from 2013–16. During my final academic year at UMass Dartmouth, I entered new territory, as I had run out of NCAA eligibility. I had to learn to embrace life as a former collegiate athlete but was privileged to have the opportunity to freelance in the athletics department as a photographer and designer.
One highlight of the 2016–17 Winter Season included being able to trail my former team in their historic birth to the NCAA Tournament with an Elite 8 finish. My experience freelancing for athletic department allowed me to add some key pieces to my portfolio, which helped when applying and interviewing for a career in the sports industry.
Realizing the value of faculty mentors
The faculty in the College of Visual & Performing Arts has had an invaluable impact on my life, not only while I was attending school, but also in helping me prepare for life beyond graduation. There are no words to express my gratitude for the mentorship, guidance, and support that I experienced from day one at UMass Dartmouth. In addition to the faculty, the facilities, especially the resources at Star Store, were huge in helping me to develop as an artist, designer, and maker.
Launching my professional career
In December of 2017, I accepted my first full-time position as a graphic designer at Game Seven Marketing, an experiential sports marketing agency, located in Brooklyn, New York. I'm grateful that I have been able to bring the experience I gained as a student to my career.