Alumni Spotlight: Travis Brownell & PA House of Representatives
Many people dream of obtaining a creative, satisfying career within their first few post-college years. For Travis Brownell, this dream is very much a reality as he continues to advance in his design career. Travis is a 2016 graduate of the Graphic Communications and Printing Technology program at Thaddeus Stevens College, a time which he describes as “inspiring” and a “fantastic education.” Now, 5 years later, Travis is working with the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the state capital, Harrisburg, PA as a Communications Specialist.
Tell us about yourself and your background?
I grew up in Lancaster County attending private school throughout my grade school years. I first attended HACC to complete my general education, and then attended Thaddeus Stevens. From graduation I was hired at a small print shop in Wyomissing, PA, spending my first 4.5 years there in my professional career. I then moved onto my new position as a communications specialist for the House of Representatives. I love traveling and exploring new areas, my most recent adventure hiking the Superstition Mountains in Arizona. I'm hoping to make my way down to New Orleans once life gets back normal from the pandemic.
How did your education and time at Thaddeus Stevens College help prepare you for your current position?
Thaddeus Stevens College helped me prepare for life outside of college by instilling a respect for what it's like to work in a professional setting, inspiring me to pursue my current career as a designer through fantastic education and [the support I gained from] passionate professors like Mike Brady and Bradley Adams.
What inspired you to choose your major/career path?
I had always leaned more into creative fields. Initially I went to college intending to study Journalism, then switched several times before landing on an English degree. Once I finished [my studies at] HACC, I realized this was still not the path I wanted to walk. I did some soul searching before my astute mother advised to look into a truly creative field such as design or 3D modeling. After some research I realized I had been essentially doing design in my spare time, playing around with several Adobe programs since I found it so fun to work in those suites. That's when I realized it made the most sense to pursue something I enjoy doing even in my free time.
Why did you choose Thaddeus Stevens College?
I had been looking for colleges that taught graphic design as a Major and had originally settled on Millersville University. At the time, I had a good friend (who has now become the first year Automotive Technology instructor, Naaman Hedge) who was attending and spoke about how great the environment and education was, and let me know they also had a design Major. After doing some digging and going to an open house to speak with the professors about what the classes, I decided it was the right decision to go to Thaddeus Stevens College.
What is most fulfilling about your current job?
[I appreciate] the fact that I am able to go to work and create something new every day. There's always going to be some challenge or aspect that needs to be overcome and problem-solved, and I enjoy those aspects of figuring out the puzzle.
The atmosphere is relaxed and my co-workers and supervisors could not be nicer. It also is a design-focused position, giving me the satisfaction of constantly working and creating entirely new projects and gives me the freedom to pursue my ideas.
What has been challenging about this position?
There have been challenging moments of quick-turnaround, which is expected in the design field. Some days you'll be given a project that needs finished within an hour or two, and while that can be stressful, it also keeps you sharp and truly tests your mettle. I don't mind those moments at all, but it is still a challenge to meet head-on nevertheless.
What is one piece of advice you would give a potential or current Thaddeus Stevens College student?
You put into your education what you get out of it. If you stay dedicated and put your head down, you will be successful not only at Thaddeus Stevens College, but in your life and career as well. As a secondary to that, always remember: your professors are there to help you, not to hinder you.