Randah Espy O'Doherty '15 Headshot

Undergraduate Program

Randah Espy O'Doherty '15

Graphic Design, Fine Arts

Growing into Her Career

The small class sizes and deep connections with professors helped Randah Espy O’Doherty ’15 grow as an artist and as a person. O’Doherty was able to use her time at MMU to hone her craft and network with others.

MMU: What role have the arts played in your life? What led you to pursue a degree in fine arts at Mount Mercy?

REO: Arts have played a huge role in my life. From a young age, I knew that I wanted to be an artist. It was a way for me to express myself and put myself out there as a child. I was always shy and it really made me flourish when I got compliments on my artwork. I started winning small art contests here and there, and that made me feel like I was fitting in somewhere.

"From a young age, I knew that I wanted to be an artist. It was a way for me to express myself and put myself out there as a child."

I have always been drawn to floral patterns, and bright, bold colors. Working with these gives me a sense of peace and happiness. When I started college, I thought there would be a big market for graphic designers, so that is what I decided to major in. Upon graduating from Mount Mercy, I was awarded the Sister Mary Norbert Karnik Award, which is given to the top graduating senior each year earning a degree in fine arts. 

MMU: Why did you decide to attend Mount Mercy?

REO: I initially decided to attend Mount Mercy because it was close to home and I had heard positive things about MMU. I also have a family member that teaches at Mount Mercy, so it was through his knowledge and excitement about MMU, that made it an easy choice. The professors were very encouraging and always strived to challenge their students and build a genuine connection with them. I really enjoyed my time at Mount Mercy and have been contemplating going back to school to get my master’s degree to further my learning. 

The professors were very encouraging and always strived to challenge their students and build a genuine connection with them.

Randah Espy O'Doherty '15
Graphic Design, Fine Arts

MMU: What do you see as the biggest impact from your education at Mount Mercy? How did the program prepare you for life after college?

REO: My biggest impact was having the ability to get more attentive help by attending a smaller school. Smaller class sizes definitely give you more one-on-one attention and the chance to stand out. It also prepared me by giving me the chance to take a multitude of art classes including printmaking, drawing, painting, and art history. 

MMU: Tell me about your career after Mount Mercy—what are you doing now? How are you applying what you learned in your classes to your career?

"Mount Mercy allowed me to hone in on my aesthetic, and I think I especially found that during my senior thesis."

REO: At the moment, I’m a freelance artist. I run a small business making and selling earrings and illustrating cards and prints. I do occasional freelance design on the side when I get an inquiry. Mount Mercy allowed me to hone in on my aesthetic, and I think I especially found that during my senior thesis. My senior thesis, “Take Back the Power,” was when I really experimented with mixed media, installation, and floral print while I focused on a topic I truly care about. 

MMU: What has been your biggest challenge to date? How did you overcome it?

craft-fair.jpgREO: My biggest challenge is trying to stand out in a big city. After college, I moved to Ireland for a year and took a break from design. When I got back into it, it was tough to dive in and have to stand out in a competitive field in Kansas City. I overcame these challenges by putting myself out there with my work, networking, getting involved in things that excited me in the community, and never stopping creating things. I recently became the director of competitions for AIGA KC and that has opened up a big opportunity for me to be an advocate for design and network with other creative individuals around the city! 

I overcame these challenges by putting myself out there with my work, networking, getting involved in things that excited me in the community, and never stopping creating things.

Randah Espy O'Doherty '15
Graphic Design, Fine Arts

MMU: What advice would you give to future students or what is something you wish you would have known sooner?

"Everything you make can be an experiment for something you might decide to create in the future."

REO: I would tell a future student to never stop creating. Even if you don’t know where you’re going with something…that is okay! Everything you make can be an experiment for something you might decide to create in the future. Artwork reflects you—it doesn’t have to be perfect because we as humans are not perfect. I also wish I would have taken on more internships. I had an internship at Mount Mercy through the marketing and communications department as a graphic design intern. The first day I put too much pressure on myself and had doubts that I wasn’t “good enough” and quit after the first day. I still think about that at times and I wish I would have pushed myself and not given up.

I’m definitely more resilient and am learning how decisions I’ve made in my past have affected my future career in design. You are in charge of your future and you decide how much effort you put into something. If being a designer is your passion, nothing will stop you from making that a reality.

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