Alejandra Arevalo knew she wanted a position on campus that would help her put what she learned in class into practice.
But what the visual communication design senior didn’t know when she was hired as a student assistant in the Office of Student Success in fall 2020 was that her creations would be a major component in the branding effort of a new university initiative.
The Rancho Cucamonga resident was tasked with coming up with designs for the logo, T-shirts, stickers, and other merchandising and marketing materials for Project CAMINOS (Cultivating Access and Mentoring through Institutional Networks and Opportunities for Success).
“When I joined Project CAMINOS, it was a pretty new program, so I had the opportunity to really help us brand, and that is something that I have really enjoyed,” Arevalo said.
Project Caminos, funded with a five-year $3 million grant designated for Hispanic Serving Institutions like Cal Poly Pomona, launched three years ago to increase access to the university for area high school and community college students, fund its Early Start Bronco Scholars Program and provide faculty with additional training centered on fostering math grit.
Arevalo designed a table runner and GIFs for display, as well as T-shirts, water bottles, and stickers, many featuring Billy Bronco that will be given to prospective students, parents/guardians and educators from the 15 high schools and three community colleges that Project CAMINOS serves. However, there is one project that she will forever cherish – designing the program’s logo.
The logo design, which features a gold horseshoe framing an illustration of the old stables, is the project Arevalo is the proudest of because it part of the official branding of the program, she said.
“Working on a logo that is actually utilized, and not for an in-class assignment, is very rewarding,” she said. “It taught me how to interpret and apply feedback from a client, how to think outside the box, and to take into consideration how a logo communicates to a target audience.”
Arevalo always had an interest in art and design growing up. The El Salvador native took her first graphic design class while at Rancho Cucamonga High School and recalled her teacher mentioning Cal Poly Pomona’s program.
She also had an interest in architecture but preferred the creative freedom of visual design, she said.
Arevalo said her experience with the Project CAMINOS branding has taught her the value of collaboration with those who aren’t necessarily designers and how to incorporate feedback into design revisions, recalling that one mailer she worked on went through 20 revisions.
Her work also gives her an opportunity to help recruit students from the community college and high schools where she grew up, including her alma mater, Rancho Cucamonga High.
“It’s very rewarding because I would’ve loved to have had a resource like Project CAMINOS when I was first applying to colleges, and beginning my transition,” Arevalo said. “Specifically, I would’ve loved to have had the opportunity to chat with someone in my major since I had no idea what a day to day looked like as a visual communication design student. I really appreciate our student panels and we also have a Day in the Life of a College Student workshop that I think are really helpful for prospective students who are deciding.
Xiomara Melendez, senior coordinator of access and transition in the Office of Student Success, oversees the early assessment program and one of the components of Project CAMINOS. She initially hired Arevalo to help create social media posts to increase engagement but gave her more responsibilities when the team saw Arevalo’s talent and work ethic.
“She started with little tasks here and there. Early on, we saw that she took initiative and was very creative,” Melendez said. “There was something about her graphics we really liked. So, we shifted her away from social media posts and asked her to come up with some concepts for our logo and banner.”
Melendez recalled Arevalo’s reaction when 10,000 technology stickers she designed arrived in the office. The program hosted its first event on campus in October where the stickers, water bottles, and shirts were shared with fall 2022 applicants from high school and community colleges.
“When those finally arrived, she took photos of them in the box,” Melendez said. “Just watching her expression of holding her work that had been through multiple revisions, seeing her hard work finally in print, even I had to pause and say this is such a cool moment.”