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Choose KU, Choose the World

Vicky Meloney (in green top right) welcomes Designathon participants

Vicki Meloney

by Anastasia Lehneis '17

Vicki MeloneyProfessor Vicki Meloney '93 of the Communication Design Department (KUCD) has always had an interest in art, originally stemming from her earliest childhood memories of drawing with her mother. But it wasn't until her high school teacher and KU alumna, Elizabeth Kohan '57, planted the idea that she decided on a career as a graphic designer.

Meloney began her journey as an undergrad at Kutztown University.  After graduating, she extended her education with a Master of Fine Arts at Temple University's Tyler School of Art. Since joining the KUCD Department - or as she calls it her "family" - in 2003, Meloney continues to grow her passion and positive impact within the community.

Meloney currently leads the annual KUCD Designathon, which recently celebrated its 12th year. Alongside her are her biggest contributors and co-chairs, professor Summer Doll-Myers and KUCD secretary Kathy Traylor, who have dedicated many hours and support for this event.

"It's an event that the students look forward to and can be referred to as KUCD's version of a prom," Meloney jokes. "It is a 24-hour event where teams of volunteer communication design students, professors and alumni, come together to design works for non-profits."

Each year the involvement and commitment surpasses the previous year, and has gained a vast amount of interest within the surrounding areas. Forty-five non-profits participated in this year's Designathon which included help from 123 students and 28 professors and alumni.

"What these students are able to produce in 24-hours is always extraordinary," Meloney said. "I believe the reason why Designathon is so successful is because the students view the work they're doing as secondary. They focus on the event and how we make it as fun as possible for them, including games, tons of food, etc., and because of this, they reward us with such amazing works of art for these non-profits."

Meloney places a strong emphasis on the support and contribution that was provided by both her KUCD family and her family at home. The support given by her colleagues, students and other staff has influenced the growing success of, not only Designathon, but her career as well.

Her husband, two children, parents and 5 sisters have also been supportive of Designathon, and her passion to teach. For this year's Designathon, Meloney's parents cooked regular and gluten free dishes as a way to contribute and bring food to everyone involved.

Her recent spark of positivity started when Meloney gave her students an opportunity to receive extra credit after negative posters became a concern among college campuses across the United States. As a way to show that KU does not tolerate hate, she inspired her students to create a positive twist on any posters found.

When a Facebook post explaining the assignment went viral, and eventually made it on multiple local news sources, Meloney planned a "Hate the Hate" movement and four-hour workshop inviting the community to create a message of tolerance and anti-hate.

This event attracted more than 100 people, and consisted of different art project stations and creative opportunities. One project called "Seed Bomb" encouraged people to write something hurtful that was said to them, mix it with seeds and then plant them to grow something beautiful.

Other projects included a small paper they were given to decorate however they liked, and then distribute them to other people in attendance.

"By the time everyone was leaving, they each had a stack of artwork filled with encouraging words and pictures to give and take home to promote anti-hate within the community," Meloney explained.

As Meloney promotes a positive twist on and off campus, she continues to believe that doing good around you is just common sense.

"I'm not a do-gooder or an activist. I just seem to get involved in things that become bigger than what I expected them to be."

Meloney has continued to spread the idea of "Hate the Hate" by opening up similar events for high school art students to come to campus and be a part of this movement.

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