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Graphic Design Major Named Featured Student

Male student holds up a purple flag design in front of a mural in City Hall.
Justin Koczo, of Plano, has been named Waubonsee Community College’s Featured Student for July 2011. Standing in front of a mural at Plano’s City Hall, Koczo holds up his winning design for the city’s new flag.

Professionals in artistic and creative fields, like graphic design, gain satisfaction by having people see and appreciate their work. Waubonsee Community College student Justin Koczo, of Plano, is getting the same opportunity — and then some. Not only will his design work be seen by everyone in his hometown, it will come to represent them. Koczo submitted the winning design for the City of Plano’s flag, and for that, he is being honored as Waubonsee’s Featured Student for July 2011.

Upon graduating from Plano High School in 2009, Koczo chose to enroll at Waubonsee so that he could stay close to home and keep working at the same job. He had always liked to draw, but once he saw how technology could enhance his artistic skills, he chose graphic design as his major.

“We [graphic design majors] become very good friends with our classmates and instructors because we interact with a lot of the same people throughout the program,” Koczo said. “I thank all my instructors … and enjoy learning from the experiences they’ve had throughout their careers.”

To give students another real-world lesson, Associate Professor of Graphic Design John Fu agreed to have 17 students from his Graphic I and II courses work with the City of Plano to create a city flag. 

“This project allowed our students to get real-world experience while also meeting a community need,” said Cindy Fisher, Waubonsee’s Dean for Humanities, Fine Arts and Languages. “We’re very proud of the work our students submitted and grateful to the City of Plano for this wonderful opportunity.”

Besides Koczo, other Waubonsee students submitting designs included Dylan Dressel, of Elburn; Dane Johnson and Sarah Fitzpatrick, of Yorkville; Kevin Johnson, Nicholas Velazquez, Andrew Cook and Karen Mitchell, of Aurora; Adam Lesak and Zachary VerVynck, of Sugar Grove; Jacob Roberge and Jane Gravelle, of Batavia; Robert Sabin, of Geneva; Haley Stralka, of Leland; Joshua Thomas, of Oswego; and Daniel Woods and Deana Woods, of Sandwich.

After Plano and Waubonsee officials narrowed the 17 designs down to six finalists, Plano residents made the final decision by voting at ballot boxes throughout town. In the end, it was Koczo’s design, which highlights the city’s designation as “birthplace of the harvester” and incorporates images of grain, that proved most popular, getting 172 of the more than 400 votes cast.

“This project goes beyond something to put in a portfolio or add to a résumé,” Koczo said. “It’s just really cool to say that you created something that will actually be used by the city. Not many people can say that.” 

Of course, adding it to his portfolio couldn’t hurt, especially as he plans to complete his associate degree in graphic design this December. After graduation, Koczo hopes to continue to do logo and website design on a freelance basis or partner with a friend to start a small business.

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