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ASU grad pursues dream by combining passion of art and communication studies


Photo of Melanie Utter

This fall, Melanie Utter will receive her bachelor’s degree in communication studies, with a minor in studio art from the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. Afterward, she will continue as a graduate student in the interdisciplinary studies master’s program at the ASU West campus.

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December 08, 2021

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.

For as long as she can remember, Melanie Utter has loved to create art.

“I’ve always been incredibly passionate about animation and children’s literature, and I wanted to be the person who could create artwork for other people to be inspired by,” she said.

As she ventured into various artistic mediums — colored pencils, animation, watercolors and sketching — Utter found that creating artwork for friends and family members left a strong emotional impact on both the recipients and herself.

“I knew I wanted to be able to continue doing that in my future as well,” Utter said.

This fall, she will receive her bachelor’s degree in communication studies, with a minor in studio art from the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. Afterward, she will continue as a graduate student in the interdisciplinary studies master’s program at the ASU West campus.

“I wanted to pursue a degree in communication because honestly, it was a great way for me to get out of my comfort zone and to learn a skill that I felt was so essential in today’s world. But I also wanted to be able to represent myself and my artwork because I’m very passionate about all the things I can create, and my creativity, so I wanted to find a comfortable way to pursue that and be able to intertwine both of my passions,” she said.

Throughout her time at ASU, Utter was not only able to combine her passion for art and communication studies, but also come one step closer to her dream of becoming an illustrator and author of children’s novels.

Question: What are some unique skills you gained as a communication major?

Answer: From communication studies, I learned a lot about leadership and also representing myself. I gained skills like public speaking, intercultural communication, and I also learned a lot about theory and rhetoric, which helped me inspire a lot of my artwork.

Q: What made you interested in pursuing a master’s degree?

A: I wanted to pursue a master’s degree because of the 4+1 program and because it was an opportunity for me to further my skills and take everything I learned to the next level. I am really hoping to accumulate all of my experiences and passions into a strong final project in my master’s program. By the end of my program, I’m hoping to illustrate and write my own children’s book, based on all of the research I’ve accumulated over the years at ASU.

Q: What do you love most about the ASU West campus?

A: During my time at ASU, I was able to receive wonderful feedback and support from both students and faculty. My professors saw my work and always encouraged me to go even further with it. ASU West is an amazing community, and you’re able to work with professors one-on-one and gain a lot of feedback from them. In my case, I was able to work with professors who gave me the confidence to go beyond my undergraduate degree. This was enough for me to realize I had the potential to not only pursue a graduate program, but to do well.

Q: Reflecting on your time at ASU, how do you feel you’ve grown as a person?

A: The experiences and opportunities I’ve had here at ASU have helped me hone my skills, become the person I truly want to be, and of course prepare me for the future. I cannot wait to continue my education here, and I’m proud to be a Sun Devil.

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