Cera Propper, a West Bend native, was born to be a designer, even if she didn’t realize it at first.
She has always been a natural storyteller and problem solver, but it was not until high school that a classmate greatly influenced her path to becoming a designer. That classmate attended the Pre-College Program at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD), a community program offering summer and weekend courses to high school youth to develop their art and design skills and prepare them for college.
When the classmate shared his experience with Cera, she says, “I knew I wanted to be there.”
But a big potential stumbling block loomed for Cera: the cost of tuition. She would not be able to attend college without financial aid.
That is where the Wisconsin Grant came in. It made a college education accessible to Cera, and it gave her the confidence to start her college career off strong.
“It gave me stability and security, and now that I’m here, it’s definitely worth it,” she said.
Cera’s three years at MIAD have seen her develop her design skills to such an extent that last February, Graphic Design USA magazine named her a 2019 Student to Watch.
“It’s a great feeling to be acknowledged for my work and as a person,” says Cera, “and it just makes me want to try new things, push myself, and get even better.”
Toward that end, Cera took a course last semester called Experiential Graphic Design which focused on communication design and interior architecture and design, with the goal of creating a concept for a new restaurant. The class was a rigorous and overwhelmingly positive experience, as it sharpened Cera’s design skills and required her to approach the project from a much different perspective than she was used to. It has inspired her to pursue brand and identity concepting, perhaps for exhibits and museums, post-graduation.
This summer, Cera started a yearlong internship with Baird, a prominent Milwaukee wealth management company. She has already designed advertisements, brochures, flyers, and other materials for Baird’s 100th anniversary.
“I like the way it’s structured,” Cera says. “It gives me insight into what in-house graphic design work is like at a company versus at an agency.”
None of it would have happened, she adds, without the Wisconsin Grant.
“I definitely appreciate that Wisconsin is investing in future generations,” says Cera. “The less that students worry, the more they can focus on making the best work possible.”