Milton-Area Father, Son Graduate on Same Day From Same Program

Published 06.30.2003

Student News

By Mindy Johnston College Information & Community Relations Intern

The maxim "like father, like son" rang true recently at Pennsylvania College of Technology, when a father and son from Milton Michael L. and Matthew L. Byers both received bachelor's degrees in Graphic Design on the same day.

Matthew, 23, decided to enroll at Penn College in 1998, becoming a Presidential Scholar and Student Ambassador.

Michael, 44, an orthodontic lab technician for 17 years, was looking for a career change at the same time. He was "tired of being stagnant" and felt like he had "all this creativity" and needed to start using it.

When Michael saw how well his son liked the Graphic Design program at the College, he decided to enroll in 1999. He was interested in drafting in high school and enjoyed drawing. He saw that graphic design was a combination of the two. Although Michael was a little apprehensive at first, he decided he had to "get over his fear in order to become successful." He also had the support of a loving wife and family.

Looking back, Michael is surprised by now how much he misses school already, revealing, "It's hard, realizing it's over."

It seems the whole family has some kind of artistic ability. In fact, Matthew's younger brother, Ryan, 21, also is enrolled in the College's Graphic Design major.

Though Matthew started before his father, they were able to graduate together. Matthew spent one semester in Denmark while participating in a foreign-exchange program. Afterward, he took a semester off. By the time Matthew resumed his classes, Michael had caught up with him.

Both father and son excelled in the program academically, and, although they were only in five classes together in their senior years, Matthew reported the competition was always intense. Michael was just one of the many talented students in the program who brought out Matthew's competitive side.

Michael was always very proud of his sons, but very competitive, as well. Matthew also felt the situation helped strengthen their already close-knit bond. It was a new way for them to "learn more about each other," and they could always get feedback from each other about homework and projects. They even went looking for graduate schools together recently.

Around campus, it was known that Michael and Matthew were father and son, and the students closer to Matthew's age took a liking to Michael. According to Matthew, "Some of the professors would joke about there being too many Byers in the program."

As far as job prospects go, Matthew wants to work in Web design. Although he would like to return to Denmark, more than likely, he'll be looking for jobs in Harrisburg and State College. He's also looking at employment possibilities in Providence, R.I.

Michael is looking to focus on fine arts in graduate school. He would like to become a sculpture instructor. He is considering the University of Delaware and Millersville University, but probably will be going to the University of Georgia or the University of Cincinnati. He is working on art professionally and trying to build a name for himself, as well.

Recently, Penn College purchased Michael's senior project and two of his ceramic pieces. Michael felt his strength was in 3-D design, so he wanted to incorporate that into his senior project. He decided to design a set of three steel sculptures and carry it through with a printed format as well. He liked the fact that the idea was a mix of fine arts and graphics. To fulfill the project, Michael had to take an elective course in welding. He also took an independent study in ceramics. Michael is proud of the project, but the most important part of it all was the recognition he has gained.

For his senior project, Matthew designed a Web site and built an informational kiosk for the Susquehanna Art Museum. He made a presentation on the project recently to the Penn College Board of Directors.

Matthew likes the Penn College Graphic Design program because it stays current. He also likes that the program addresses design theory before the more technical aspects. Another advantage, he said, is the way the faculty members work together to evaluate the curriculum.

Michael also praised the college's Graphic Design program, especially the way it integrates graphic design with fine arts. He said the area is "lucky to have a school like this."

Michael said Patrick Murphy, associate professor of advertising art, helped him learn the foundation of graphic design, while David M. Moyer, instructor of graphic design, helped him to move from graphic design to fine arts.

Matthew said Murphy helped him pay attention to detail, because of the way he stresses execution.