“I feel like I’m going to be stuck on a project 3 years from now and something Fenske said will suddenly click in my head.”

In my undergrad at Indiana University, I was exposed to my first taste of advertising. I took a few ad classes on a whim and completely fell in love. At the end of undergrad, I knew I wanted more. But, I also knew that I didn’t have a portfolio.

My undergrad experience had given me the history of advertising, but not the skills to be an art director or copywriter.

An undergrad professor mentioned the idea of attending a portfolio school. He told me that if I was serious about this, a place like the VCU Brandcenter is where I should go to build a book.

I applied to the Brandcenter just in time to meet the final application deadline in May. Over Memorial Day weekend, my friends and I went on a backpacking trip in California. I didn’t have service, but knew I was going to be getting my admission decision that week. For five days I enjoyed Yosemite National Park, knowing in the back of my mind that when the trip was over and I could access my phone, I would know if I was accepted or not.

As we were driving out of the park on our way home, all the emails from those five days came flooding in. There was an email from the Brandcenter. I got in.

My boyfriend moved to Richmond with me, and we both found our place in the local community very quickly (my boyfriend as a freelance photographer, and me as a Brandcenter student). Being born and raised in Indiana, I appreciate Richmond’s walkability. I love that I can walk to many places, exploring the nearby neighborhoods or walking along river trails.

The Brandcenter itself has been a really interesting experience, going from not knowing a whole lot, to being thrown into the deep end of the pool and trying to stay afloat. The depth that goes into conceptual thinking is a little overwhelming at first.

Professor Fenske’s class is really hard, but he’s a great concepter. In his classes he shares many tips on how to train your brain.

I also can’t say enough good things about our alumni network. I visited a bunch of agencies over spring break in NY and LA, and reached out to many VCU Brandcenter alums to set up meetings. No one turned me down. Not only did everyone make time, but they also told me to send my book along when it was done. It’s cool to see that people genuinely care.

I look forward to seeing what lies ahead after graduation.

-Steph Langan, art direction track, class of 2017