This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. More info

Ft. Myers Student Puts Family First with Design Degree

Fort Myers design student KarenFew things held Ft. Myers, Fla. student Karen Sentner’s attention like art and design while growing up. But like a lot of artistically inclined young people, a time came where she had to decide whether her passion would become a hobby or a career with which she could support her family.

The choice was easy for Sentner.

“For me [the choice] was ‘do you want a job that you’ll have to deal with every day or do you want a job that you can look forward to every day?’” Sentner says. “If you want to look forward to your job you have to work for it, and that means you need to get an education to stand out to employers.”

This is the story of how Sentner’s choice to pursue her passion at Rasmussen College has paid off.

Finding what she wants

Art was always a favorite school subject for Sentner, but she didn’t really consider design as a potential career until in high school, when a class covering the basics of design software piqued her interest. The class made her think of design as a potential line of work, but she also wasn’t sure how realistic the job prospects would be.

“I loved the idea of working for Pixar and Disney, but I wanted something real that I could do here in my hometown,” Sentner says.

Sentner set out to find the right college for her after high school and made a brief stop at Edison State College to take a few general education classes. Sentner says she hated her experience there, but was still able to pick up a few credits before leaving and continuing her search for the right fit.

Sentner briefly contemplated trying to teach herself how to use programs like Photoshop and Illustrator with online tutorials, but realized skills alone wouldn’t be enough for what she wanted in life—a career.

“I want to have a job where I work for a big company in their marketing department,” Sentner says. “Experience and technical skills are good to have but companies want to see that you’ve got a degree.”

A television ad for Rasmussen College caught her attention and shortly after meeting with an advisor she decided to enroll in the design program.

Sentner says part of the appeal was that if things didn’t work out with her design dreams, she would still have a degree to fall back on when applying for other types of work. Fortunately for Sentner, her hard work and helpful instructors have paved the way for her to stick with her dream career path.

Experience at Rasmussen College

Sentner’s time at Rasmussen College could have easily faltered after her first year—planning her wedding, going to school and having her first child made for a hectic schedule. The effort required to balance her schedule was challenging, but Sentner says that her instructors helped make it manageable.

“I had really good communication with my instructors so the week I had my baby we were able to work things out,” Sentner says.

Sentner says that while the flexibility of her online classes made her busy schedule easier to manage, she preferred to take her design courses in person. Hands-on instruction and working through new techniques with classmates made in-person classes appealing.

“The best inspiration I get is from other students because we just feed off of each other’s ideas,” Sentner says. “You also get to hear the little tips and tricks for Photoshop or other programs that somebody else might know.”

Her coursework also pushed Sentner to try refining skills like animation and video editing; something she says never interested her until she got to try them in class. One of the assignments has already paid off tremendously for Sentner—a portfolio video showcasing her work led to a job offer.

“I never thought I wanted to do video editing and thought it was something I’d just have to do to get it out of the way,” Sentner says. “But I know for a fact that video portfolio got me my job.”

Budding career & plans for the future

Sentner cleared a major hurdle while finishing up her associate degree—landing a job at Lifeline Family Center as a graphic designer and marketing specialist. The position provides her with an excellent starting point for a variety of career avenues as she has her hands in design work, social media and web development.

A job and an associate degree are a great start, but Sentner has big plans for her future. She wants to eventually work her way into a senior marketing position for a large company and earn her bachelor’s degree along the way. She is content, for now, at her current job and looks to supplement her income with freelance work because she wants to wait for her family to mature before climbing the corporate ladder.

Sentner is already working as a freelance designer for local businesses and can rely on continued support from a former instructor.

“One of my first design instructors, Jen Ayotte, has been really helpful even after she took on another position,” Sentner says. “I’m still able to reach out to her and she helped me with pricing for freelance work since I didn’t really know what to charge.”

Sentner’s current job at Lifeline Family Center plus her freelance projects will give her not only a strong portfolio of professional work, but also a fantastic launching point for a career as the connections made through both could open wide variety of opportunity.

It looks like getting her design degree—rather than trying to teach herself—was the right choice after all.

Build your foundation

Do you want a career where your work is something you look forward to? A design degree is the best way for you to build the foundation of a graphic design career. Karen Sentner made the choice and it paid off—so what’s stopping you?

Will Erstad

Will is a Sr. Content Specialist at Collegis Education. He researches and writes student-focused articles on a variety of topics for Rasmussen College. He is passionate about learning and enjoys writing engaging content to help current and future students on their path to a rewarding education.


Related Content

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen College to support its educational programs. Rasmussen College may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit for a list of programs offered. External links provided on are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen College is a regionally accredited private college.

logo-accreditation-acen logo-accreditation-ccne chart-credential-laddering-healthcare-management 0 Credits 90 Credits 180 Credits 48 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE’S DEGREE Start Here MASTER’S DEGREE PURSUERS End Here BACHELOR’S DEGREE End Here MASTER’S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-rsb 0 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS 90 Credits Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE 180 Credits End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-rsd 0 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS 91 Credits Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE 181 Credits End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-rsjs 0 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS 91 Credits Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE 180 Credits End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-rsn 0 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS 91 Credits Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE 181 Credits End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE icon-colored-outline-bank icon-colored-outline-certificate icon-colored-outline-circle-dollar-sign icon-colored-outline-folder-search icon-colored-outline-hand-heart icon-colored-outline-head-blocks icon-colored-outline-head-cog icon-colored-outline-head-heart icon-colored-outline-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-outline-hospital icon-colored-outline-light-bulb-analytics icon-colored-outline-magnifying-glass icon-colored-outline-monitor-healthcare icon-colored-outline-monitor-paper-search icon-colored-outline-nurse-rays icon-colored-outline-padlock-shield icon-colored-advance icon-colored-arrows-cross-curve icon-colored-build icon-colored-bulb-analytics icon-colored-certificate icon-colored-continual-developement icon-colored-folder-mortarboard icon-colored-globe-pen icon-colored-growth icon-colored-hand-bubble icon-colored-head-blocks icon-colored-head-cog icon-colored-laptop-cbe-skyscraper icon-colored-laptop-webpage icon-colored-location-pin icon-colored-monitor-paper-scan icon-colored-national icon-colored-person-whiteboard icon-colored-police-light icon-colored-prep icon-colored-presenter icon-colored-regional icon-colored-save-time icon-colored-skyscraper icon-colored-state icon-colored-student-centered icon-colored-support icon-colored-world-experience icon-camera icon-filter icon-info-circle icon-mail-forward icon-play-solid icon-quote-mark-left icon-quote-mark-right icon-share-square-o icon-spinner icon-tag ras-logo-flame ras-logo-horizontal ras-logo-stacked icon-bank icon-general-chart icon-general-connect icon-general-degree icon-general-discuss icon-general-email icon-general-find icon-general-hat icon-general-heart icon-general-laptop-building icon-general-laptop icon-general-leader icon-general-map icon-general-money icon-general-paperwork icon-general-people icon-general-phone icon-general-speak-out icon-head-heart icon-mglass icon-scales icon-simple-chat icon-simple-desktop icon-simple-find icon-simple-hamburger icon-simple-phone icon-testimonial-quotes icon-social-facebook-square-colored icon-social-facebook-square icon-social-facebook icon-social-google-plus-square icon-social-google-plus icon-social-instagram icon-social-linkedin-square-colored icon-social-linkedin-square icon-social-linkedin icon-social-pinterest-p icon-social-twitter-square icon-social-twitter icon-social-youtube-play-colored icon-social-youtube-play icon-util-checkbox-white icon-util-checkbox icon-util-checked-white icon-util-checked icon-util-chevron-down icon-util-chevron-left icon-util-chevron-right icon-util-chevron-up icon-util-language-switch icon-util-loading icon-util-open-window-button icon-util-open-window-link icon-util-pdf-button icon-util-pdf-link icon-util-refresh icon-util-x