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Business, Entrepreneurship and Career Planning

School of Art & Art History
Thriving As Creatives (Alumni Stories)

May 12, 2022

The Speakers



Visual Designer

I recently graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Graphic Design and a minor in Business Administration. My work can be defined as bold, colorful, and a definitely a little rebellious. I have a bit of an adventurous streak and I love to push the boundaries of what I can do with design. Constantly gathering creative energy from the world around me, my main sources of inspiration are music, fashion, and technology


I am a User Experience and Design Manager, as well as a Creative Strategist, that’s very passionate about helping others. As a designer, I really enjoy simplifying complex flows and concepts for users. As a manager, I am all about mentoring and empowering others, so they can continue to grow. I am a big advocate of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and serve on the board of United’s multicultural employee business resource group.

In my personal time, I love spending time with family, but also love to pick a book and read on my own every now and then. I am also very curious and always challenge myself to learn new things and expand my current knowledge. I believe that you never stop learning.

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3D Artist, Designer and Curator 

Nicole Ruggiero is a 3D visual artist whose work is based on the internet and online trends. Her practice concentrates on technology and the emotional and social culture that surrounds it. Her most recent works explore topics such as digital identity, nostalgia, online romance and sexuality, and meme humor.


Creative Director @ Parisleaf

With the help of Mayer Danzig, I started Twangville in 2005 as a means to share playlists with friends. Quickly, it became a place to write reviews and share music that doesn’t get as much airplay as deserved. These days I spend much time in DC traffic. This means I have plenty of time to listen and rate music but less time to write thoughtful reviews but I won’t stop trying. Currently I am the Creative Director at Parisleaf. 

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Creative Director with over twenty years of experience in creative strategy and execution. Currently focused on the design of innovative digital and experiential design in fashion and lifestyle e-commerce retail. Holistic knowledge in art directing photography and video from early concepts through final production. Passionate about sincere story telling through beautiful images, curated content and meticulous typography. Proud to lead and mentor diverse and collaborative design teams that have garnered both growth and industry accolades for unique omnichannel shopping experiences.


Owner, Design Director

Ron is a designer, educator, and creative entrepreneur. He started his career working for motion graphics studios in Los Angeles, CA. In 2007, he relocated to Charlotte, NC and founded two businesses; Myjive, a digital agency and Umodo, a mobile gaming company. As owner and Chief Creative Officer, Ron grew the firm’s digital offerings, gaining an international client roster of fortune 500 companies. In 2018, Ron sold the agency and relocated to St Augustine, FL. He now advocates for the Graphic Design program at Jacksonville University, helping to nurture the program’s growth and facilitate the next generation of designers. Ron is credited for over 60 industry awards including Addy's, Telly's, Webby and ProAds. His career includes work for No nonsense, HGTV, Volvo, Mack Trucks, Fox Sports, MetLife, NFL Network, Regal Boats, BMW and Dr Pepper.



Principle Product Design and Research / Lead Product Design and Research

Kaitlyn is leading omnichannel consumer experience at Better Place Forests. She is passionate about strategy, research, and behavioral psychology — especially in contexts where online and offline experiences can simplify decision-making and enhance human connection.

Prior to Better Place, Kaitlyn focused on interaction design and brand strategy; ranging from building human-centered products and services at IDEO to creating the first design systems at Victoria's Secret and Gillette. She studied Fine Art and Design at the University of Florida.

On any given weekend, you can find her backpacking or backcountry skiing somewhere in Tahoe National Forest.

Wednesday, March 30th - Zoom


Google, Interaction Designer

I’m Derrick Ligon, an interaction designer in Austin, TX currently working at Google. My background includes brand, visual design, user experience design, and design systems. Outside of solving user needs, my focus is on working to be a better ally.



Independent Marketing Consultant

I want to help you use your technology in a more strategic manner so that you can save time and focus on growing revenue. Let me help you thrive using Marketo, Salesforce and/or Bizible to increase your marketing efforts, report on the outcomes, and then use that insight to improve and expand

Monday, April 11th - Zoom


May 12th, 2022

6:00pm - 6:25pm

Panel 1: Searching for a job in a different city
(Sarah Cantor, Carolina de Marchena, Nicole Ruggiero)

6:30pm - 6:55pm

Panel 2: Navigating your first 100 days 

(Tom Osborne, Mike Ray)

7:00pm - 7:25pm

Panel 3: Freelancing like a boss… 

(Ron Edelen, Kaitlyn Irvine)

7:30pm - 8:00pm

Panel 4 Valuing your work 

(Derrick Ligon, Carey Picklesimer)



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