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Meet Leslie Cullen, Chair of the Graphic & Interactive Design Program

Leslie Cullen headshotWith a passion for not only graphic design but for sharing knowledge with others, teaching was a natural transition for Leslie Cullen, chair of the Graphic & Interactive Design program at Mount Wachusett Community College.

Cullen started working at the Mount part-time in the evenings shortly after graduating from college. When an opportunity to take on a full-time position became available, she applied for the job.

Her interest in graphic design was prompted by a high school course she took on the subject. She was immediately interested in the field and knew she wanted to pursue graphic design as a career. Cullen is now instilling that same interest and passion for graphic and interactive design in her students every day.

Cullen says that what makes her love her job is “seeing the students progress from my first design theory class all the way through the end to portfolio prep — seeing the transition and change of a student who didn’t know much, to somebody who is a skilled graphic designer.”

“This passion I have for teaching is about the students,” she continued. “The student body and population is so diverse and they all come here with various skill sets and various needs. The beauty of my job is I get to design through them as their art director in the classroom.”

Cullen explained that the Mount’s program in graphic and interactive design is different than programs at other colleges because “we teach the software as well as the concept development tools at the same time in the classroom.” While other programs may teach concepts only, at MWCC “the students are learning Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat, as well as the web design tools of HTML, CSS, and Javascript. That hands’ on approach, coupled with ideation, is our most important feature,” she said.A class of students in a Mac computer lab, focus on instructor and student looking at a computer

Students who are considering a major in Graphic & Interactive Design should be creative and capable of multi-tasking, she said, but “you don’t have to be a great artist to be a great graphic designer.” Her most successful students are those who “think in interesting ways” and “love to explore things and try new ideas.”

The students in the Graphic & Interactive Design program speak highly of their professor. One student, Bao Truong, said, “You know she cares, and she wants you to be responsible and put effort in and I think that teaches you a lot.”

Cullen is invested in her students’ educations. “Working with Leslie Cullen – she’s an intense woman! She really knows what she’s talking about… she helped me a lot with a lot of stuff, with Photoshop and Illustrator, she helped me a lot with that, fixing up my projects, and then since she’s also my advisor she helped me with picking out a lot of my classes,” said Kristen Gaudet, another Graphic & Interactive Design student.

Gaudet added that all the professors in the Graphic & Interactive Design program make sure their students have both the technical and creative skills they need to excel in any career opportunities that await them in the future. “The professors really love it, and it helps me get more involved because I know they’re enjoying what they do,” she said.

Aisha Schor HeadshotAbout the Author: Aisha Schor is a Media Communications major at MWCC. She is a contributing writer for the News Center.