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One night, Austin Shepherd was scrolling through Facebook when he read a post from the president of the Kentucky Pediatric Cancer Research Trust Fund seeking a graphic designer to create a logo for the organization.

Months later, the Eastern Kentucky University student was standing in the Kentucky Capitol alongside Gov. Matt Bevin as his winning design was unveiled.

When Shepherd, a junior graphic design major from Hazard and active member of the University’s chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, learned that the project would be a donation rather than a paid commission, he considered the cause and was more than happy to donate his time and talents.

As he began his project, he asked himself, “What makes up the state of Kentucky?” Shepherd’s answer was clear: “Children and new ways of thinking are the building blocks of any state.”

Thus, he chose to do a design in the shape of Kentucky, with profiles of children outlined in blue, with the color representing “the safety and security that the trust fund was founded on.” Between the two children is a gold heart, reminiscent of the gold ribbon associated with pediatric cancer.

Shepherd credits his success to the graphic design program at Eastern, especially professors Ida Kumoji and Ellen Lytle, who taught him “not only the technical elements of design and how to make things look good, but also how to act professional and incorporate professional practices in my freelance work outside of class.”

Kumoji has noticed that, since he joined the graphic design program, “Austin has developed a sense of confidence” in his work as well as “initiative to work with the diverse population at EKU.”

His winning entry is no meager accomplishment. The design took a week of working late after classes and AIGA meetings, which Kumoji said reflects Shepherd’s “positive attitude, motivation and solid work ethic as a designer.”

Shepherd was aptly rewarded as he attended the Kentucky Pediatric Cancer Trust Fund event at the Kentucky Capitol on Feb. 15. He revealed his design in front of state lawmakers and other officials, nationally renowned pediatric oncologists, Governor Bevin and Kentucky First Lady Glenna Bevin. 

After he graduates with a BFA in art, with an emphasis in graphic design, Shepherd hopes to work for a design firm such as Pentagram or a video game company such as Blizzard.

His professors have no doubt that he will be able to achieve his aspirations. Kumoji declared that Shepherd’s work “shows his passion and drive to become a successful designer.”

— By Yasmin White, Student Writer, EKU Communications & Brand Management