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Michelle Doody has designs for a creative career

Indications are that Michelle Doody will do well in her dream career.

Last week, the Hudson High School senior won a poster design competition held to showcase the best high school talent in the field of graphic design.

Her poster depicting the theme "Art is a global language" was judged the best of 33 that made it into the final round of the contest sponsored by The Art Institutes International Minnesota and Americans for the Arts.

First place brought with it a $3,000 scholarship to the college and entry in The Art Institutes' national competition, in which she could win up to $25,000 in scholarship money.

The award was great encouragement for Michelle, who, because of the expense, was having second thoughts about attending The Art Institutes after high school.

"Even though this school has the best curriculum and everything that I want, I told myself, if I don't win one scholarship, I'm going to apply to a different school," she said.

It would have been a disappointment.

Michelle has been planning to attend The Art Institutes since her junior year when a graphic designer visited the Vocational Studies program at Hudson High and opened her eyes to what the career has to offer.

"I was just blown away because I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do," the confident 18-year-old said. "I've always been interested in art. And growing up I've been really into computers and doing graphic stuff. I never knew that there was a career out there made up of what I like to do."

Michelle didn't waste any time pursuing her dream job. She requested information on The Art Institutes Minnesota the same day she learned about careers in graphic design.

"And the next thing I knew, I was enrolled in a school that I could not afford," she said.

The Art Institutes, located in downtown Minneapolis, educates students for employment in creative fields such as graphic design, media arts and animation, photography, multimedia and Web design, interior design and culinary arts.

"You go there if you know what it is you want to do. It's career education," Michelle explained. "You learn everything it is you need to know in order to succeed in your field of interest."

It's a highly regarded school with tuition to match.

An admissions counselor at The Art Institutes suggested to Michelle that she enter the poster competition for the chance to win some scholarship money.

"I've been working on it endlessly," said Michelle of the contest.

Her first idea for portraying art as a global language was to relate the visual arts to music. She worked countless hours on the design, but wasn't pleased with the result. A week before the contest deadline, she scrapped the whole thing and started over.

In a creative burst, she thought of paint and of how people the world over use it to create works of art. She had a map of the continents on her computer screen, and it struck her that the forms resembled spilled paint.

So she used Adobe Photoshop to doctor the continents to look like glistening splotches of red paint, added an artist's wet brush, and had the focal point for her poster.

Michelle was at work at the St. Croix County register of deeds office Tuesday of last week when she received a call from her counselor at The Art Institutes informing her that she had won the local contest.

"I'm like, that's not funny, because I thought she was joking," she said. "I had no idea I was going to win. I was praying for this. I was crying. I was speechless for the rest of the day. I've been applying for scholarships like there's no tomorrow."

Michelle's poster, along with the winning posters from 31 other local competitions throughout North America, will be used in a promotional calendar for Americans for the Arts. The calendar will be distributed to high schools across the country.

Americans for the Arts, the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts, also will create an online gallery of all scholarship winning artwork on its Web site,

Pearl Doody, Michelle's mother, says Michelle is a focused and ambitious girl.

Michelle completed most of her required courses at Hudson High School in her freshman and sophomore years so she could participate in the Vocational Studies work-release program and earn money to pay for college. She started working as a clerical assistant in the register of deeds office in June of 2003.

Her co-workers make the job enjoyable, she said. "I like them all. It's a bunch of women in the office. The atmosphere there is so really comfortable."

She recently used some of her savings buy to a new computer with a 250 gigabit hard drive and a wide-panel screen. It's an awesome change from the 6.98 gigabit computer she had been using, she said.

"No offense, but you adults didn't grow up with the computer, so you didn't get to explore them," she told a reporter as he fumbled to put a compact disc containing her poster into a computer. "Kids these days are pretty computer smart."

Michelle said her creative side comes from her mother.

"She's very artistic," she said. "She's always encouraged my creative side."

The career she pursues after college definitely will have to allow her to express her own creatively, Michelle said. That, and pay the bills.

Randy Hanson can be contacted at

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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