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SCC Digital Media and Graphic Design Lead Instructor Former Student in Program

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Gatlin Hiatt has come full circle with her position as Lead Instructor in the Surry Community College Digital Media and Graphic Design Program.

Hiatt attended SCC from 2013 to 2015 on a golf scholarship and was interested in pursuing a degree in Art Education. At SCC, she was very involved, working as a student ambassador and participating in the art club. Additionally, her interest and love of golf kept her very involved in college athletics under the guidance of Coach Tom Pendergraft. Hiatt helped lead the SCC Women’s Golf team to national competitions both years of her attendance, traveling with the team to Daytona Beach, Fla., and Mesa, Ariz. In 2015, she was selected as SCC Athlete of the Year.

As her college career in art and sports progressed, Hiatt recalls being “not super interested” in graphic design. However, that changed when she signed up for a Graphic Design course at SCC just before the start of her first semester.

At the time, SCC’s Lead Instructor was Jay Smith, and Hiatt says he was very instrumental in helping her realize how closely art and digital media/graphic design are related. She says, “I learned that art and digital media/graphic design are not compartmentalized, but instead, actually complement each other.”

After working in the industry upon graduation from SCC, Hiatt was still interested in Art Education. She began attending Appalachian State University in 2017 to become a Visual Fine Arts teacher for Kindergarten through 12th grade students. While there, she worked in the athletics department doing graphic design for ASU Football while she completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree for K-12, Art Education.

Upon graduating from ASU, Hiatt went to work for Stokes County Schools teaching Art I through Art IV and Advanced Portfolios classes to students in grades 9-12. In 2023, an opportunity presented itself for Hiatt to return to SCC when her former instructor left for another opportunity closer to his home. That’s when Hiatt was hired as Lead Instructor of Digital Media and Graphic Design.

“I always tell people that SCC treats students so well, and that they want students to succeed and go back into the community. It’s such an honor for me to be back here and have this job.”

Hiatt also describes having a strong working relationship with SCC Lead Art Instructor Anna-Olivia Sisk as art and graphic design come together. “Building relationships is what sets SCC apart from other colleges and bigger universities,” she says, “And it’s so close by.”

Hiatt says one of the most important things that she learned is that there are, in her words, “so many job opportunities” in this field, giving students many choices in employment involving art and graphic design. Hiatt’s own personal career history has taken her from digital design on the football field, to digital media and graphic design for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as similar work at a few local industries before her stint at Stokes County Schools and coming back to SCC. “I always tell my students that they’ll be able to get a job in this field. It’s wide open, and there are more and more opportunities available.”

If you’d like to learn more about SCC’s Digital Media and Graphic Design Program, contact Gatlin Hiatt at hiattgn@surry.edu or (336) 386-3290. All of SCC’s Digital Media and Graphic Design courses are offered online, with the next group of classes scheduled to begin on March 13.

Graduates should qualify for employment as web designers, graphic artists/designers, multimedia specialists, web developers, web content specialists, media specialists, information specialists, digital media specialists, animation specialists, interface designers, and many new jobs yet to be defined in this expanding field. Visit surry.edu for more.

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