Building Our Future One Student At A Time

matthew_buschCollege expenses can be a nightmare, as most college students would agree. The average cost of tuition and fees in the United States for 2015 exceeded $32,000, according to CollegeData.com. And the cost can reach as high as $120,000 for graduate school, according to FinAid.org. So it makes sense the first thing a student would (and absolutely should) do after being accepted to college is start looking for any means possible to cut the cost of higher education.

For individuals interested in graphic communications, the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (PGSF) offers the tuition and fellowship assistance young students need to help them attend school comfortably. PGSF dedicates itself not only to the financial assistance of students, but also functions to strengthen the graphic communications industry and reassure students that the multi-faceted industry is indeed growing.

A Personal Story

When former PGSF recipient Matthew Busch decided to return to school to become a graphic arts teacher, PGSF’s assistance helped him achieve his dream of sharing his enthusiasm for graphic communications with younger generations.

Matthew’s interest in the world of graphic communications was kick-started by a “kooky” high school graphics teacher whose classroom inspired him to pursue graphic communications professionally. After learning all he could about printing and graphics and experiencing processes firsthand, his interest became a passion. Not long after, Matthew’s attendance at graphics summer camps and trade shows transformed that passion into a hobby. As a result, he later earned his bachelor’s degree in graphic design.

However, as fate would have it, Matthew never fit in with the various industry jobs he tried. Finding himself constantly drawn back to education, he decided to go into teaching. Still suffering from the debt accumulated from his undergraduate years, he discovered PGSF while searching for financial assistance for his master’s degree. After applying, he received several PGSF scholarship awards that made his journey possible. “I still have graduate loans I’m paying off … but it’s nowhere near as much had PGSF not been there for me,” he said. Now working at Enloe High School in North Carolina, Matthew’s dream of teaching graphics is now a reality thanks, in part, to PGSF.

Paying It Forward

Channeling his admiration and respect for his high school graphics instructor, Matthew encourages students to get into graphic communications by creating a “project-based” classroom that puts most aspects of a project in the hands of the student, giving them a lot of creative freedom. The success of his program—dubbed “Enloe Graphics”—is partly due to Enloe High School’s administration. The school has a “go for it” attitude and sees a graphics department as an important program worth supporting.

Matthew emulated that mentality by building a strong printing and graphics program furnished with all the resources it needed; he believes his program has the opportunity to interest many students because of what the program offers, including everything from photography to printing to design. “My goal is to make graphics tangible and also make it an obvious solution for as many as I can hook,” he said. Matthew believes students who open their minds to printing and graphics, and see the potential of it all, have the opportunity to become passionate about the graphic communications industry. He feels empowered by his students’ creations and hopes they also recognize the creative power they hold by further pursing the industry.

Impact on Students

When Matthew receives notes from students naming him responsible for their growing interest, or even a developed passion, his empowerment returns. “…it’s very heavy and powerful, and you really had no idea you had such a profound effect on a student,” he said. He sees a bit of himself in his students, and it causes his passion for graphics and teaching to grow all the more.

Matthew sees strong printing and graphics programs at schools as an important step in keeping the industry alive for younger generations. He believes programs focusing on all aspects of print and graphics have the most potential. Interest in the industry is best developed when students are actively thinking about what they see themselves studying or where they see themselves working. School programs start it, and passionate teachers like Matthew grow it. After making the big decision, organizations like PGSF help finance the education of the students who see studying printing and graphics in school as a gateway to a more creative world.

Editor’s Note: According to BLS statistics, printing has one of the highest median ages of any manufacturing industry. The industry’s labor shortage will only get worse as employees start retiring. Attracting and hiring the next generation of employees is the only long-term solution. We encourage members to contact their local school and other technical schools, colleges, and universities with graphic arts programs about hiring students who will be graduating.

These schools will only get more funding if students are getting jobs in the industry upon graduation. Also, these new graduates have decades of work-life ahead of them and are typically the healthiest employee group. For a complete list of post-secondary schools that provide graphics programs visit the resources page at www.pgsf.org.