Jim Wodarek ’91

Jim Wodarek ’91 has been teaching graphic design for over 20 years and is currently teaching at Baldwin High School, where he developed a digital art and graphic design curriculum that gives students the opportunity to earn three credits at La Roche.

Why would you recommend La Roche to a prospective student?

The class sizes were very small and the professors knew you as an individual.

Why did you choose La Roche?

The Graphic Design program was the best in the region. That’s what brought me to La Roche.

What impact did La Roche have on you as a person?

We were held to very high standards. I developed very high expectations and a relentless work ethic during my undergraduate years at La Roche.

What does your job entail?

I developed the curriculum for the digital art and graphic design courses at Baldwin High School. I aligned the Graphic Design, Digital Illustration and Digital Photography courses with the La Roche curriculum, and our high school students have the opportunity to earn three college credits at La Roche by taking these college level courses in high school. Serving as the department chair of the arts allows me to be an advocate for arts education. It is a very rewarding and enjoyable position.

How did La Roche prepare you for this position?

Every aspect of my professional career has been driven by the Graphic Design program at La Roche. Upon graduating I immediately went to work in advertising. I spent time as an art director until I made the transition to teaching. I have been teaching graphic design for over 20 years while remaining an active freelance designer and gallery artist.

What are you most proud of when you look back on your La Roche experience?

When I started my first job at a large ad agency, it was evident that I was trained differently than my competition from other institutions. I was trained to work with a practical understanding of how to design. I immediately went to work as a designer while I watched recent graduates from other programs run errands and make coffee runs. It was then that I really understood the value of my La Roche degree. I was very proud to be a La Roche graduate.

Favorite memory of being a La Roche student:

All-nighters in the design studio. I graduated with a fantastic group of graphic design students and we were all so driven. We pushed each other to keep advancing. Those all-nighters produced a great sense of accomplishment, an adrenaline rush and great memories.

What advice do you have for our students?

Your work ethic is your most valuable asset. You have a skill set and you are now ready to develop your career, so get out there and outwork your competition. Have a greater work ethic than anyone who came before you.

Please describe an experience with a faculty or staff member who made a strong, positive impact on you:

My college mentor, Martha Fairchild used to say, "Believe in your art." I never forgot that statement and it has become a personal motto that applies to both my graphic design work and art.

Advice to pass along to readers:

A college education is an investment in yourself. If you want personal attention and high-impact learning, La Roche is the place for you to begin the transition from student to professional.