Here comes the bride—and RIT graduate
April 19, 2007
by Kelly Downs
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In her childhood scrapbook, Jessi Mills wrote of aspirations to grow up to be a magician. Years later, it appears Mills has delivered nothing short of a magical performance at RIT.
This graphic design major and communication minor has excelled at her studies, served as a resident advisor, studied abroad, run track, worked part-time and participated in various campus organizations. Rewarded for her efforts, she has won numerous awards and accolades, including the RIT Outstanding Undergraduate Award and an Addy Award for her design work.
With few minutes to spare, Mills still finds time to plan what will be one of the biggest days of her life—she’s getting married the week before commencement. So what’s her trick to a successful balancing act?
“I take advantage of every minute, of every gap I have,” says Mills. “If class gets out 15 minutes early, I’ll go to the library and get some research done or go to the computer lab.”
Mills, the first member of her family to go to college, loved RIT from the moment she first visited campus. Mills’ hometown is Home, Pa., northeast of Pittsburgh.
“I thought the RIT campus was beautiful,” says Mills. “I liked the rural feel of Henrietta. It was much more urban than what I grew up in. I liked the idea of driving 10 minutes to go to Wal-Mart or Target.”
Once her freshman year began, Mills was on the fast track, literally. She joined the women’s track and field team. At one time during her college career, she held four RIT records. Mills proclaims, “I’m a sprinter to the core!”
Her calendar rules her fast-paced life. “I am very organized,” she says. “I’m a master list maker. There are sticky notes all over my room.”
Mills is involved in RIT’s Honors Program, Baptist Campus Ministries and intramural soccer. She will finish out her senior year as a resident advisor of Baker Hall.
“Jessi is a strong team player and has more energy than anyone I’ve ever met,” says Deb Kingsbury, assistant dean of the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences. “She is an excellent designer and student whose smile is infectious. Jessi is a great example of what a good RIT citizen and leader should be.”
Based on her grade-point average and her portfolio, the School of Design chose Mills to take part in its semester exchange program at Anhalt University in Dessau, Germany, last spring. Mills faced intense graphic design courses combined with the language barrier. Despite the challenges, it was an amazing experience for her.
“I have a lot more insight into other cultures. I tell my residents if they can’t study abroad or do a co-op abroad, they should try to at least visit another country because they may not get the opportunity later in life.”
Selected as the 2007 delegate for the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, Mills will speak before her peers and their families at commencement. It will be a busy week for Mills as she will get married the previous Saturday. She moved up her July wedding when she received word of her fiancÚ’s deployment to Iraq in June.
Mills designed the wedding invitations, the programs, the favors and the cake. She ultimately wants to land a job at a small graphic design company. “I love to design logos. Working in a small graphic design firm I could also do advertising campaigns, direct mailings and Web sites. It would give me the opportunity to do what I did here at RIT—a little of everything.”