Designing your dream job

Published 11.10.2020


by KimbrF

Graphic design graduate


As Senior UI/UX Designer for Blackboard, an educational technology company, Kimbr Filko applies the skills she learned at Penn College to design websites for K-12 schools.

The 2014 graphic design alumna offers insight into the value of her degree, and the important role the College continues to play in her life.

Why is Penn College an important part of your story?

When I came to Penn College, I had an associate degree and was seeking a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. I attended other schools but found that I was repeating courses I’d taken elsewhere, rather than moving forward to earn my degree. The programs at Penn College were highly focused, and I quickly gained the momentum I needed to start earning credit toward my degree. The coursework was challenging in a way that helped me feel confident that I would find a job in my chosen field. I was working as a graphic designer within two months of graduation and have been with my company for six years. 

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? Did your Penn College experience impact your ability to achieve this accomplishment? 

For many years, I was taking courses on and off again at other schools during my pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. I became complacent in a job that I liked well enough, but I also realized over the years that it would never become my career. Marriage and children also came into the mix, but I knew I needed to finish my degree so that I could have the job I dreamed of. Once I came to Penn College, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel for graduation. For the first time, I felt confident in my career choice and I knew I could succeed in getting a job I loved once I graduated. I now work for an educational technology company where I design websites for K-12 schools. I’m proud to say that I was recruited by a fellow Penn College graduate and that my company sees the value in the education we receive at this institution. 

What do you find unique about Penn College?

The campus size provides a unique opportunity to be more connected with instructors, staff and other students. It was easy to meet with instructors and stay on track with my graduation goals. 

If someone was hearing of Penn College for the first time, what would you tell them? 

The programs at Penn College are highly specialized. The instructors are very knowledgeable and push students to succeed in their areas of study. Penn College also seeks to be a leader in providing tools, equipment and training that is not always found at other institutions. 

How do you stay connected to the College?

I currently live in Florida, so I look for ways that I can stay connected remotely. As part of the Tomorrow Makers program, I receive updates on opportunities to contribute to the College’s mission. 

I’ve enjoyed participating in alumni gatherings and have been able to attend the ones in my area for the past couple of years. There are also many virtual opportunities available. I recently completed the Wildcat Dash Virtual 5k event and I’m scheduled to participate in a Virtual Alumni Panel coming up this month.

What makes you “Penn College Proud”?

I’m proud to be a graduate of Penn College. The amount of enthusiasm the students, staff, faculty and alumni have in our school is apparent. I’m fortunate to be part of the history of this institution. We are a community. We are a family. Together, we are Penn College Proud.  

When you hear that we as a college community are “Transforming Tomorrow, Together,” what do you envision?

Penn College is a place where students receive hands-on educational experiences with the latest technology – such as working with automotive and engineering equipment to aircraft repair, dental hygiene and the design of logos, T-shirts and gallery posters for real-world use around campus and the community. Faculty and staff work together to find opportunities for students to gain practical experience so they’re ready to go into the workforce after graduation. For example, when I was a graphic design student, we had exciting opportunities facilitated by instructors like Nick Stephenson who encouraged students to enter regional and national contests with organizations like the AAF (American Advertising Federation). He also worked with us to form a student chapter with the AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts). I’m constantly seeing examples of how students find opportunities to be involved and participate in events that are beyond the scope of the classroom.