Twin Cities Design Student Finds Career Focus in Family

Nothing gets a person’s priorities in line like becoming a parent. Knowing that you’re going to be responsible for the life of another human being puts a good deal of pressure on you to not only get by, but thrive. After all, someone else will be counting on you soon.

Twin Cities design student Adam Leonhardt has used that pressure as a motivation to push himself toward earning his degree and setting a solid foundation for his young family.

This is how Rasmussen College has helped Leonhardt lay that foundation.

The motivational spark

In his teens, Leonhardt dropped out of high school in order to work full time and move out on his own. Looking back, he admits he regrets the decision to leave high school and views it as a missed opportunity, but he did eventually earn his GED. Despite his regrets, he was able to get himself on track with a job as a teacher at KinderCare in 2002.

Leonhardt was content with his life and work for the most part as working with children undoubtedly helped tap into his creative side. But after getting married in 2012 and making plans for a little one of his own, he decided to make a change and return to school.

“It was just time for me to get my act together and really start working toward having not just a job, but a career,” Leonhardt says.

He set out to find a local college in the Minneapolis area that would meet his needs. After learning more about what the design program had to offer and making a visit to Rasmussen College’s Brooklyn Park campus, Leonhardt was ready to enroll. He says that the flexibility of online classes paired with the ability to actually visit a nearby campus if needed struck a nice balance for him as he continued to work full time at KinderCare. Having found the right fit for himself and his family, he enrolled at Rasmussen College in 2013.

Going above & beyond for family

Leonhardt says he grew up in an artistically inclined family so it was no surprise that he ended up infatuated with comic books and animated movies. The natural progression for him was to apply the artistic talent he’d developed while sketching in a notepad as a kid to a field where he could pursue his passion professionally.

That passion for design along with the motivation from starting a new family helped Leonhardt ease his way back into being a student—something he admits to feeling a little anxious about.

“I was definitely apprehensive about starting school again,” Leonhardt says. “I hadn’t been to school in over 10 years so I wasn’t sure what it’d be like—was I going to be good at it? Would I be interested?”

Despite his concerns, Leonhardt says he’s been pleasantly surprised at how well he has acclimated to life as a college student.

Leonhardt’s family has inspired him to do well in school in ways he never expected. For an assignment he wrote and illustrated a children’s book, “Arlo’s Big Words,” which he dedicated to his young son and wife. While he never expected to become an author, he says he is incredibly proud of his work and loves what it represents.

“It’s really cool to have that on [my son’s] bookshelf now and I’ll be able to read it to him when he gets older,” Leonhardt says. “It’s something real where I can show—aside from a diploma—that going to school really made this happen for me.”

The secret to being a 'mega dad'

The influence of Leonhardt’s family doesn’t stop there—he teamed up with his brother, John Wahl, to create a website. The website, MegaDads, is a look at the life of the brothers as both gamers and dads.

“It’s kind of a funny look at what it means to be a nerd but still be responsible at the same time,” Leonhardt says.  

Creating content based around this concept hasn’t been a stretch for Leonhardt and his brother—both have been avid gamers throughout their lives and know exactly what it’s like to raise a family while still pursuing their hobby of choice. Their website looks to fill a growing, unique niche for the scores of lifelong gamers taking on the new frontier of parenthood—something fairly uncommon not long ago.

Working on the website has allowed Leonhardt to stretch himself creatively and apply everything he’s learned as a media artist at Rasmussen College. He’s taken on web design, video production, podcasts and he’s even created a web comic, all for the site. While that may seem like – and is – a lot of work, the site serves as both a creative outlet for Leonhardt and a way for him to build a substantial portfolio of work. Creating the illustrations and other forms of content for the site is a natural way for him to apply what he has learned so far.  

“It’s all just creativity. I have to be creating something to be satisfied, and now I’m able to do 10 times the amount of things I could do before starting at Rasmussen,” Leonhardt says.

A bright future

If all continues to go as planned, Leonhardt will graduate with an associate degree in spring 2015. Earning a degree will be a major achievement for the former high school dropout, but what’s most important to him is that his education should put him and his family on solid ground for years to come.  He says he is open to any type of design work after graduating and with his mix of talent, education and dedication, he might just be in high demand.

Time for a change?

You don’t need a major life event like becoming a parent to spark a change in your life. If you’re ready to make a change for the better and earn a degree, click the ‘Request Program Info’ button above to learn more about what Rasmussen College has to offer you.

*Photo courtesy of Ron Putnam Photography

About the author

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 University. He is passionate about learning and enjoys writing engaging content to help current and future students on their path to a rewarding education.


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