Freshmen Earn National Title at Business Professionals of America Conference

Just weeks ago, Kent State welcomed new students to campus for its fall semester, but two incoming freshmen in the College of Communication and Information have already made their mark in their chosen fields of study.

As students at Reynoldsburg High School in Columbus, Ohio, Tanisha Thomas and Sarah Riedlinger participated in the Business Professionals of America (BPA) National Leadership Conference twice. Together, they entered the Website Design Team competition, and won the national title as both juniors and seniors.

For this year’s competition, Thomas and Riedlinger, along with a third teammate, Makayla Pinoni, created a public service website dedicated to raising awareness about alcohol abuse and providing resources to those suffering from it. Their site featured a self-assessment quiz, resources for alcoholics and their families, video testimonials and and detailed animated educational videos about alcohol’s effects on the body.

Their website even caught the attention of Ohio Governor, John Kasich, who expressed interest is using the website as part of a state-sponsored alcohol abuse program.

Riedlinger, a visual communication design major, said the structure of the program in the School of Visual Communication Design (VCD) is what initially drew her to Kent State. Riedlinger says some colleges restrict design majors to one form of art, such as only illustration or only photography. But Kent State has a well-rounded curriculum that offers students an experience with different design mediums.

“As a VCD major, it is important to me that there is a good mix of traditional art skills while also incorporating digital art and design,” Riedlinger said.

Riedlinger recognizes the need for web designers in an age where most companies and businesses have to utilize their website to reach customers. She hopes to take the skills she gains from her education at Kent State to work as a website or graphic designer in the future.

Thomas took advantage of the Golden Flash Days that Kent State offers to students who have already been accepted into its programs. It was at a Golden Flash Day where she met several broadcast journalism students and faculty who told her more about the major and what Kent State had to offer. Their advice greatly influenced her decision to come to Kent State, as well as to major in broadcast journalism.

“I felt like I was at home and Kent State was my family,” Thomas said. “I felt welcomed, which is what I was looking for when making a decision on what college to attend.”

Thompson first became interested in broadcast journalism after watching sports reporter, Rachel Nichols, cover the NBA Finals. Thomas hopes her experience in broadcast journalism will one day lead her to a career at ESPN.

Thomas and Riedlinger prepared for the competition by completing a two-year multimedia class offered through their high school at Eastland-Fairfield Career & Technical Schools. The class taught skills like coding, video shooting and editing and website design. The class also incorporated skills that students could use in the real-world, such as how to type a resume, interviewing and public speaking.

Both Thomas and Riedlinger agree that participating in the BPA National Conference and the website design competition has not only given them an experience they will be able to apply to their degrees at Kent State, but it provided them with skills needed to further their careers later on in life.

by Maggie Wachtel

POSTED: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 3:19pm
UPDATED: Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 2:59pm