A wall of placards featuring honored alumni.
The Alumni Wall of Honor in the Keating Center.

The second annual Ringling College of Art and Design Alumni Wall of Honor was unveiled on January 17, 2019. Debuting last year, the Wall of Honor recognizes exceptional graduates in each major, as well as alumni leaders. Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Peter McAllister thanked the department heads before further explaining the importance of the Alumni Wall of Honor stating, “President Thompson, it is your vision for 20 years as president that enables us to celebrate this event today. Our alumni are living proof that preeminence is becoming a reality. To select our alumni, we asked each department head to choose individuals who have made a significant impact in their chosen field and exemplify the passion and excellence that are hallmarks of Ringling College.”

As a current junior, it was an inspiration to see all of the amazing things our graduates have done and how they’ve used their degrees as a base to navigate their professional paths. Half of this year’s honorees were able to attend the ceremony in person: Jody Haneke (Graphic Design, ’95), Christian Sampson (Fine Arts, ’98), Ignacio Guajardo Unanue (Game Art, ’14), Keith Nielsen (Business of Art & Design, ’15), and May Todd (Film, ’15). Watching them accept their award reinforced the idea that Ringling College is shattering the myth of the starving artist.

Some honored alumni were available to receive the honor in-person.

Keith Nielsen now works as a costume designer and credits Ringling College and the insights he gleaned from his peers, stating, “If someone gives me a prompt, that’s my starting point, not my ending point. I want to cross the finish line. My major was great and I loved it, but there were a lot of different things surrounding me. There are so many different majors with all of these different focuses that can support and help me in different ways.” It is easy to get lost in the tunnel of your major, but what makes these honorees so influential is their commitment to branch out of their majors and seize all the opportunities Ringling College offers.

Jody Haneke now runs a software company. Haneke offered this piece of advice to current students: “Having a strong foundation in design is extremely important in the world I live in and it touches on so many aspects of software. One of the first things I learned very quickly was to do a lot of iterations. One of the first real lessons I learned was your first idea is typically already executed so you can throw it away.” Haneke is a reminder that design is at the heart of so many things. Those iterations that so many students dread are a part of the creative process and help us to become better artists. 

The Alumni Wall of Honor is located in the Keating Center. Stop by to see how much campus has changed and visit the Alumni Wall of Honor, designed by the Department Head of Graphic Design Jeff Bleitz. It is truly a motivation to continue to grow as an artist in the Ringling College community.

By Sydney Anderson ’20  |  Photo by Elan Photography
Sydney Anderson is a third-year Creative Writing student at Ringling College.