MPCC Graphic Design teacher Becky Meyers retiring

Becky Meyers
Thursday, May 9, 2024

In the fall of 2005, Mid-Plains Community College launched its new graphic design program with then part-time instructor Becky Meyers. This week the portfolio work of her final group of graduating students are on display, along with work by first-year students in the Wrightstone Fine Arts Gallery. She is retiring at the end of this semester.

She is a McCook High School and MCC graduate. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Kearney. After working for an advertising agency in Colorado, she moved back to McCook where she did free-lance graphic design, and taught art for 12 years in Bartley and worked in the advertising side of the family business, Samway Floor Covering and Furniture before developing the graphic design program at Mid-Plains Community College.

With the encouragement of Dr. Tubbs and many members of the community Meyers was at the forefront of helping create the graphic design program which began in the fall of 2005. One of the things that helped make MPCC’s graphic design program stand apart from others was the inclusion of a business component.

“Considering my own education and work in the field of graphic design, I felt that was one thing that was lacking in my education was business courses,” she said.  

It didn’t take long before MCC students were not only keeping pace with students in four-year colleges and universities, they regularly out-performed them in state and national competitions in Phi Beta Lambda, now known as FBLA Collegiate. MCC students brought home numerous awards including first place awards in the areas of desktop publishing, animation and video editing.

In 2013, Meyers was named the 2013 Dr. Gene A. Budig Outstanding Faculty Award winner at MCC. 

Until the fall of 2013, the program was simply referred to as “graphic design” but over the years that didn’t accurately reflect the comprehensive skills the students were learning at MCC.

“Many people view graphic design from a narrow perspective, but most businesses needed employees who provided a broader value,” said Meyers. “Our program provided a broad employment base for students. Advertising agencies and print companies were not the only places where students could look for jobs.”

While the curriculum didn’t change the program name changed to better reflect its content— it became Graphic Design/Visual Communications in 2013.

“Yes we did have print design classes but our students also took video, 3D and animation classes, web design and business classes,” said Meyers.

Many of her former students are working for businesses where they are the lone designer responsible for all these areas of graphic design.

“When we added ‘Visual Communications’ to the program title it better defined our students’ skills and provided more opportunities for our students in the job market,” said Meyers.

The Graphic Design/Visual Communications program has constantly evolved with technology changes, but so too did the nature of graphic design. For many years, businesses used advertising agencies to do graphic design work but that changed with technology advances as more companies started hiring their own in-house designers.

“I’ve had students with job offers and taking design jobs with manufacturing companies, retailers, schools, large churches, and other organizations. Others have moved on using their broad base of design skills for self-employed ventures,” she said.

The college later refined and developed a two-plus-two partnership with the University of Nebraska-Omaha in which MPCC students could take two years at MCC or North Platte and receive their associate degree with program certifications that would transfer to UNO for their bachelor’s degree in another two years.

In addition to MPCC students getting experience working for community businesses, they have also put their skills to work for the college in the form of animations and print holiday cards, videos, and promotional materials such as the covers for the student planners.

Meyers said that the graphic design/visual communications field is such an open-ended field that it gives students the chance to realize where their passion is, and the variety of classes gives students the opportunity to discover their passion. Some students enjoy all areas in visual communication, so they take a job where they can have that variety, others prefer to specialize in a particular area of design.

While technology has always been an important component of the program Meyers said changes are now happening at a spiraling rate. As the lone instructor of the graphic design courses in the program she has taught students in person at both McCook and North Platte.

She’s looking forward to spending more time with her husband Ken. Currently most of her evenings and weekends are spent preparing for classes, keeping up with changes in software, or grading projects.

“The difficult part about retiring is that in a program like this I’m always going to have those first-year students I’ll miss for their second year,” she said.

One of the first adventures that she and her husband plan to take is to head to Washington D.C. again.

She plans to visit former student Jessica Epting who is currently a visual information specialist at the Library of Congress.

“We haven’t been to D.C. since Jessica started working there,” she said. “It will be great to see her again and I’m excited to see the book design that she is working on for the new exhibit that will open in June.”