LSC-Kingwood visual communication students Keyla Lerma and Josh McElroy proudly hold their trophies earned at the American Advertising Federation Conference in Houston. Pictured with them are other student members of the LSC-Kingwood Visual Communications team, their graphic design professor Zoila Donneys, center, and a 76 Gas Station representative (left, blue blazer).

The Lone Star College-Kingwood Visual Communication Department won top awards at the 38th annual American Advertising Federation (AAF) Student Conference and Competition in Houston.

Graphic design and visual communication students Keyla Lerma and Josh McElroy earned first and second place awards, respectively, and received a trophy and recognition from the AAF. This feat is the first time that students from two-year institutions were part of the winning teams.

"Our students demonstrated that they are ready for the higher demands of careers in graphic design," said Zoila Donneys, graphic design professor and graphic design club advisor. "Their achievements proved that the LSC-Kingwood program is a complete and up-to-date program that is competitive with other colleges in Houston and around the country."

Along with Lerma and McElroy, other students who participated were John Miller, club vice president; Jordan Minor, club secretary; Ariana Salazar, Kirbe Holley, Michael Heginbotham, Luis Aleman, Kumaar Ramasamy, Haley Vance and Meybel Guzman. At the AAF Conference, students paired up with participants from four-year universities to create a marketing and advertising campaign for 76 Gas Stations.

"The conference and competition were truly a career- and life-changing experience. I learned how to work with people that I have never met and the importance of time management, but my biggest takeaway was the important impact and skill of networking," Salazar said. "Throughout the weekend event, I had the amazing opportunity to connect, exchange information and learn directly from design and marketing professionals who are currently working in the industry."

The AAF Student Conference and Competition took place Nov. 1 and 2 at the Houston Marriott Hotel in the Galleria. The regional event was comprised of students from more than 20 universities across Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. Once divided into teams and given their assignments, each group works at a local ad agency, design firm or in-house marketing department to develop their campaigns in eight hours. The projects include a video presentation along with marketing and media plans.

"During the AAF Competition, I learned how to work with a group without any previous contact and how to research the brand to create a marketing campaign in eight hours," Heginbotham said. "This experience was very useful in providing me with future knowledge of what to improve on when it comes to expectations of real-world design."

The LSC-Kingwood visual communication program trains future digital designers in the communication media of the future. It provides students with skills needed for careers in commercial art and design, desktop publishing, multimedia development, web design, 3-D animation, video and post-production. For more information, visit

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