Life preparation. It was the thing that most drove Dana Dollarhyde to get a college degree and the thing that she said she is most grateful for her college experience.
One reason Dollarhyde (’18 DTC) chose WSU Tri-Cities was because it was affordable: she received thousands in scholarships and also qualified for the College Bound Program which would paid her tuition in full. But it was WSU Tri-Cities staff and faculty that helped her find her passion and a career pathway that made most sense for her personal goals.
“I knew I wanted to get a degree in something that I was going to use, not only career-wise, but also in life,” she said. “I wanted it to be something practical that I could apply directly to my life. WSU Tri-Cities helped me find that path and helped get me there. I found my ideal degree program.”
That program, she said, was digital technology and culture, a multimedia and arts-based degree that allows students to study and explore communication through media platforms. And, with it, she made connections along the way that led to her success.
Finding her dream career
Dollarhyde had first decided on a pathway in computer science when she started as a freshman. She took introductory courses in coding and other related fields, but realized the path wasn’t for her. She decided to take a course in digital technology and culture, which would allow her to build skills in graphic design, video production, photography and web design. The degree program proved to be a perfect fit.
She switched majors, intending to still use her experience in computer science, and instead dedicated full-force to a career path in graphic design.
In her courses, she was taught out to use programs like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere and more. She learned how to edit videos, take photographs using a DSLR camera and how to market herself digitally in the multimedia sphere.
Her professors, she said, were knowledgeable and supportive of her and her peers in their preparation for a career in multimedia fields.
“I really enjoyed my classes and my professors really cared about us succeeding in our field,” she said. “I was also able to make a number of connections that set me up for success.”
Connecting degree to real-life
As a student, Dollarhyde first worked for the financial aid office, and then in the Office of Admissions as a student ambassador. Through this role, she gave tours and educated prospective students about life as a student at WSU Tri-Cities.
She was then connected with an opportunity to work as a student graphic designer with the Office of Student Life, where she used what she had learned in class to produce flyers, pamphlets, screen displays and more.
In combination with her role as a graphic designer, she also served as an orientation leader, where she worked with incoming students to educate them about all that WSU Tri-Cities has to offer and use her creative mentality to help come up with programming and activities.
By the end of her student experience, Dollarhyde was overseeing her fellow student leaders in the Office of Student Life, which provided an incredible learning opportunity where she also gained some management experience.
The small campus size, she said, made it easy for students to pursue leadership and other extracurricular opportunities – all of which were incredibly valuable to her college experience.
“The connections I made and the opportunities I had at WSU Tri-Cities were great,” she said. “I always had someone to connect with and talk to because of the things I got to be involved in on campus. It’s the real reason why I was successful.”
Preparation for real life
Dollarhyde is now pursuing a career in design and works as a marketer for Retter and Company Sotheby’s International Realty, a job connection she made as a result of her mentor at WSU Tri-Cities.
Chris Meiers, vice chancellor for student affairs at WSU Tri-Cities, saw that the company was looking for someone to fulfill the full-time position and connected Dollarhyde with a contact at the company and gave her a recommendation.
“He thought I would be a good resource for them,” she said. “They were looking for someone to do design and web, someone with a full skills set.”
She spends her days producing website, creating digital graphics and other design materials, creating videos for realtors and more.
Looking back on her WSU Tri-Cities experience, Dollarhyde said her experience at WSU Tri-Cities really did prepare her for the real world, especially in her field: “It’s more than the degree you get. It’s the skills that you get, the connections you make. It’s the little things along the way that prepare you for something big.”
Top image: Dollarhyde, second from left, works in a computer lab at WSU Tri-Cities
By Meagan Murray for WSU Tri-Cities