More than She Imagined: Q&A With Studio Art Graduate Heather Burton

Q&A with Heather Burton, who landed a career before graduationHeather Burton, an Olathe, Kansas, native, graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art in December 2017. Before graduating though, she’d already landed a job. Check out Heather’s story in this Q&A:

How was your graduation day?

It was overwhelming to me. It’s the day you work so hard for since you’re 5. I kept worrying about my cap falling off, and of course it did as I walked up to receive my diploma.

Later that day, my boyfriend – now fiancé – dropped on one knee and asked me to marry him. To graduate and be proposed to on the same day was crazy. It was so special!

Why did you choose UMKC?

I was originally looking at the Kansas City Art Institute, and while on a campus tour noticed UMKC across the street. When I walked on UMKC’s campus for the first time, it just felt like home. I ultimately had to decide if I wanted an art school education or a liberal arts education. I decided to choose UMKC because it allowed me to grow as an artist while gaining critical thinking skills by taking classes such as criminal justice and environmental science. Kansas City has such an up-and-coming art scene, I always knew I wanted to stay here, so UMKC just fit perfectly.

How has your college program inspired you?

My program opened a lot of new doors and opportunities in Kansas City I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. Graphic design jobs, good ones, are hard to come by, and I landed a full-time one at Sprint largely because UMKC opened a lot of new doors and opportunities I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

Why did you choose graphic design?

Ever since I was a little girl painting rocks in my backyard, I always knew I wanted to become an artist. As I got a little older, the term “starving artist” became more and more relevant. I chose graphic design because it’s a field that allows me to have creative freedom, but it is also in high demand in the commercial world. I’ve been running my own photography business since I was 16.

What are the challenges and benefits of your program?

Standing out in a world full of many talented artists is one of the challenges. One of the benefits is that there’s never a dull moment being a designer because the creative industry is ever-changing and evolving.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

No question is a stupid question.

Who do you admire most at UMKC?

I admire all the staff and professors I have interacted with over my years at UMKC who constantly push you to excel and back you all the way. They bend over backwards for students to reach their goals. Shoot, I wouldn’t have a full-time job before I graduated if it wasn’t for them.

What’s your greatest fear?

To have a boring, scripted life.

What is one word that best describes you?

Gregarious. I am outgoing, sociable and very fond of the company of others. The word was originally used to describe animals that live in flocks — it’s from the Latin word grex, meaning “herd.” I am the friend who always gets everyone to hang out and do fun things whether they know each other or not.

A version of this Q&A was first published in December 20, 2017, on UMKC Today.