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Please Mind the GAP

University of Houston Graphic Alumni Partnership pays it forward to tomorrow’s designers.

It’s no secret that Coogs are everywhere. The design world is no exception — UH graphic design alumni are influencing the world of visual communication in leadership positions. Coogs lead design firms, advertising agencies, large and small corporations and nationally recognized design organizations.

For ten years, UH Graphic Alumni Partnership (UH GAP) has served the community and contributed to the economy by advancing the profession of graphic design. The organization serves as a link between alumni and the professional design world. It has greatly influenced students like Alwyn Brownewell (B.F.A. Graphic Design ’18) who is pursuing a career in design “because it’s multifaceted and versatile in expressing ideas and messages.” Currently class president, Brownewell plans to contribute to the design world “by spreading positive messages with the skills I have honed in the UH Graphic Design program.” 

Last November, Brownewell, Erick Velazquez (B.F.A. Graphic Design ’18) and several of their peers were awarded coveted UH GAP Scholarships. These stars of the UH Graphic Design program mingled with working design professionals and their classmates at a celebratory awards banquet.

Jinyong Choi (M.F.A. Graphic Design ’19) says he was proud of himself and his classmates for receiving scholarships from UH GAP, and that it was his most exciting achievement of last semester. “It was not only a reassurance about current research but also motivation for future exploration in graphic design and critical theory,” Choi said.

The UH GAP Scholarship Program was developed by people who understand the unique challenges and expenses faced by graphic design students. Many of the current members struggled with having to meet financial responsibilities while simultaneously succeeding in UH’s rigorous design program.

Derek Witucki (M.F.A. Graphic Design ’19), whose focus is on multimodal communication, says his scholarship significantly helps offset costs allowing him to focus on his current projects. “I’m diving into type and image books, buying reference materials,” Witucki said, adding that the printing expenses of books can be costly. Last semester, his work included two 30-page hand-bound books and one with a page count of 100. 

Hibah Osman (M.F.A. Graphic Design ’18) says she’s grateful that the UH GAP scholarship will allow her to focus exclusively on writing her thesis. “I hope to graduate in a few months, so producing, printing and installing design for my thesis show will be my process over the semester.”

In addition to paying it forward, UH GAP serves alumni, graduates and the design community at large, thus furthering the design profession. Linh Hoang (B.F.A. Graphic Design ’18) said that his journey in the School of Art began as a painter, but after taking more graphic design classes, he realized the profound impact good design has on people and the environment. “I made it my quest to not just create art just for myself but also design for others,” he said.

The contingent of UH GAP creatives is committed to advancing the profession while easing financial burden for students who follow in their footsteps. For nearly three decades, this dynamic organization has served the community and contributed to the economy. This has been achieved by connecting students with some of the best graphic designers in the nation who just happen to hail from UH. Mission accomplished.