Bree McMahon

Class Year



Appleton, Wis.


Graphic Design, Art History

Bree McMahon has been fascinated with the world of graphic design since she was in seventh grade and started playing with graphic art, web design and computers. As a senior in high school, she realized that graphic design could be her future career, and that Carthage was the right place for her to pursue it.

“Carthage was actually a quick choice for me,” Bree said. “They gave me a scholarship for graphic design, but they also had an art history program. They had both fields that, at the time, I was interested in.” 

She believes that Carthage has a special and stimulating graphic design program. “Each class I have taken I have learned so much. Rather than memorizing a list of typefaces or Adobe commands, I learn the fundamentals of the field and of design, which is a lot more rewarding.”

“I think the professors and the classes really instill a foundation for us to be different than every other graphic designer out there after college,” Bree continued. “I look at what my friends may be doing in regards to design at other schools and all I see is boring projects and bland results. Here at Carthage, we are really taught how to think differently and stand out from the crowd and make our designs eye catching and exciting.”

According to Bree, Carthage’s graphic design professors work to prepare their students to be real-world graphic design professionals by guiding and encouraging them to use their skills as much as possible. In October 2010, Bree will be traveling to Kentucky for a newspaper conference for The Current, Carthage’s student-run newspaper. She has also had many opportunities to apply what she has learned in classes while working in Carthage’s communications office.

“The best opportunity I’ve had at Carthage so far has been my internship in the office of communications,” Bree said. “I do graphic design work for Carthage, such as postcards, invitations, banners, brochures, basically anything that anyone in any department might want printed up. It’s been a blast. I have learned so much about graphic design in the real world and have worked under some very talented people. Carthage has a great graphic design team and I feel so privileged to not only be a part of it, but to get paid doing it!”

“I started this job over the summer of 2010 and have now continued into the school year. Being able to stay on campus and work a well-paid job all summer was a great opportunity as well,” she continued. “You really get to fall in love with this campus, which is so beautiful over the summer. There are very few students on campus, so you get to meet a lot of new people and discover a lot of cool things about this campus that you don’t get to see during the school year.

“Carthage also takes great care of the students over the summer. They give us food, house us in the Oaks and also pay us pretty well! They organize events to keep us busy and overall, make the summer very memorable. Most people think a summer at school would be boring, but by far it’s one of the best experiences I’ve had here so far.”

Bree hopes to graduate from Carthage with All College Honors and Honors in her Major and go on to graduate school for a graduate degree in both graphic design and art history.

“I look at what my friends may be doing in regards to design at other schools and all I see is boring projects and bland results. Here at Carthage, we are really taught how to think differently and stand out from the crowd and make our designs eye catching and exciting.”

Bree McMahon, ’12

Career goal

“I’d like to receive my master’s in design, then go on to work at a graphic design firm, and eventually become a university professor. I’d also some day like to get a master’s degree in art history and work in a museum. Needless to say, I have a lot of different goals and dreams for my life.”

How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?

“That’s really hard. ProbablyLaura Huaracha, who is also my advisor. Laura has the ability to bring what we learn into the practical world. She is so intelligent and really inspiring. I think she really focuses on helping her students develop a sense of themselves as designers, so that we can identify and market ourselves. She helps us set ourselves apart from others, so that when it comes to finding a job, we stand out. She really has the students’ best interests at heart and she manages to be honest and real with each and every one of us. As for my art history classes, my favorite is Anne Cassidy. She, again, is so intelligent and inspiring. The excitement she gets from art history causes a student to be excited as well. She is open to our own opinions while also pushing us to question ourselves.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class by far has been History of Graphic Design. Absolutely. This class was so much fun for so many reasons. Not only was it taught by Professor Huaracha, but it was also so interesting. I learned so many things about graphic design that it really has even influenced my work. The projects were fun, the papers were fun. Overall the class was just really great, and I managed to get a lot out of it.”

Toughest class

“Graphic Design II. This class really gets into branding and working with clients. It’s tough to have to do what a client wants, while also adding your own personal artistic flair. This class is really disciplined in the sense that you need to learn how to plan and prepare, even when you aren’t inspired to create or can’t seem to think of the best approach. Although it’s difficult, the professor, Jose Montoto, really manages to give great feedback and push you along.”

Favorite moments and memories at Carthage

“My favorite moment at Carthage was New Student Convocation. I will never forget having the entire class of 2012 sit in the chapel and see us all at the same time, knowing we’d never be together like that again until we graduate. It was an overpowering feeling, looking around and wondering who would be your best friends in the coming years, whom you would date, or whom you just would never get along with. It was very strange but very cool. I’m glad Carthage holds these type of ceremonies. They are so unique and special to this school and to all the students. We are a family, not just a class.”

Favorite spot on campus

“My favorite spot on campus has got to be the basement study area of the library. I swear, the moment you sit at one of those tables, its impossible not to get work done. It’s so calming in Hedberg and they really provide a great atmosphere to get homework done. Our library is by far the nicest I’ve ever seen at any school. It’s open, clean, cozy — not dingy and bland like other libraries. It really makes me feel like I want to get work done, as weird as that sounds!”

Biggest surprise so far

 “The biggest surprise for me is how much I miss living on campus now that I have moved into an apartment off-campus for my junior year. I thought I’d be so happy once I got out of the dorms and into my new place. Wrong! I mean, it’s nice to have my own room, my own space and my own bathroom. But on the other hand, living on campus allows you to get so involved so easily. I still am a part of a lot of things here at Carthage, but living in the dorms makes those things so much more accessible. I miss that. I didn’t think I would, but dorm life is so much better than I thought it was when I actually was living it!”

Why should other students consider your major? What advice do you have for them?

“Don’t get discouraged, don’t get intimidated, don’t procrastinate, and ask for help. Everyone comes into this major at different stages. Seeing people the same year as you doing things you never even knew were possible can be discouraging and intimidating. Don’t let that happen! Realize that we are here to grow and learn. Observe what they do and draw inspiration from it.

“Don’t copy, but be influenced. Ask them how they did it, ask your professor how to do something. Don’t leave it all until the last minute. The moment you get inspired, create something.

“Get involved! There are so many different opportunities we have here as graphic design majors, so find them, and use your skills! Get acquainted with the Mac lab, and buy a Mac before you get here. Buy CS5 Extended Version. Buy an external hard-drive. Save and back up everything. Learn to take criticism. The biggest thing I think students struggle with is professors’ criticism. They don’t go easy on you. Realize they are the professionals and they are trying to make you a better designer. So take it, run with it, and make something better. Oh, and use Helvetica.”