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Student Designs Logo for Drexel's 125th Anniversary

Emily Charniga, a rising graphic design senior, designed the special Drexel University 125th anniversary logo that will be used in a variety of manners this academic year.

The next time you are on Drexel's University City Campus, take a closer look at the bright blue banners located on the sidewalks of Market and Chestnut streets. These banners, decorated with the historic University seal and "125" written in the shape of a Drexel dragon, are meant to celebrate Drexel's 125th anniversary in the 2016-17 academic year. And, in keeping with the Drexel tradition of experiential learning, a student was the one who designed it.

Drexel University 125th Anniversary Logo
University City Campus with 125th Anniversary Banners
Banners on campus celebrating Drexel's 125th Anniversary.

Emily Charniga, a graphic design student in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, was given the opportunity to simultaneously make and honor Drexel history. The "125" logo she designed will not only be shown on the streets of Drexel's campus, but will also be used for the anniversary in places like Drexel's websites, backdrop banners, publications and other commemorative merchandise. You will also be to see her logo at special anniversary events including Convocation and a special celebration for Drexel's 1891 founding in December.

"It's truly surreal and an honor to have had this opportunity," she said. "In any design field, exposure is a hot commodity. This project has given me more exposure than I could ask for."

Charniga first started working on the project in the fall of 2015. She thanks Mark Willie, a teaching professor in the Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, for recruiting her for the project and providing career guidance since she was a freshman.

"I immediately thought that she was the right person to tackle this demanding assignment - and I was proved right," said Willie. "She did an incredible job in making this happen through almost a year of intense work, client meetings and presentations on top of all of her coursework and co-op. It has been a pleasure to be her mentor on this amazing project."

"In classes, I've always been encouraged to think outside of the box and that motivated me to provide something that was very unique to Drexel."

When Charniga heard about the opportunity, she immediately said yes.

"I didn't think twice before accepting it," she said. "As a young designer, such a high-profile project is very hard to come by, especially one for the institution that has given me my education."

For her design process, Charniga brainstormed logo ideas in her sketchbook and picked winning submissions to scan and then used Adobe Illustrator to explore different variations of color and form. After picking 10 designs, she and Willie narrowed it down to two different logos. She even gave a presentation to her client, Drexel staff and administrators. All in all, it took about nine months.

"For my career, I have no doubt that this will help me excel in the field of graphic design," said Charniga. "It was also a great learning experience in how to work with the feedback of a client. There was a great balance struck between having enough direction and creative freedom, which is how I work best."

While Charniga's logo represents Drexel's history, the process of designing the logo represents her own personal history with Drexel.

"I am grateful to Drexel's curriculum for giving me the ability to execute this project," she said. "In classes, I've always been encouraged to think outside of the box and that motivated me to provide something that was very unique to Drexel."


Alissa Falcone

Editor and Staff Writer, University Communications

Alissa Falcone is the editor of DrexelNow and Drexel Quarterly and a staff writer who has contributed to those Drexel publications as well as Drexel Magazine and EXEL Magazine. She joined University Communications in 2013 as a communications associate and continued working full-time in 2014 after she graduated from Drexel with a bachelor’s degree in English. Alissa received her master's degree in communication from Drexel in 2017. She previously worked for Philadelphia magazine and has written for the Philadelphia Daily and other publications. When she’s not working at her desk, she can usually be found near one of the many food trucks on Drexel’s campus … for work, obviously. She tweets at @AlissaFalcone.