By Regan Reeck
Like many students, Jennifer Visocky O’Grady, a professor of art and design at Cleveland State University, was indecisive when it came to deciding her major. A future in education wasn’t on her mind when she finally found her place in design her junior year of college, but in an attempt to please her parents she enrolled in a graduate program that placed her in the classroom.
“What I realized [was] one of the things I really like about design is we do a lot of communicating and critique,” Visocky O’Grady said. “While I really like doing the concept and visualizing of the design work I also really like talking about the design work. So the classroom really just became a natural fit after that grad school experience.”
Visocky O’Grady has been at Cleveland State for 19 years, 18 of which have been full time. While she’s used her skills in design outside of the classroom, co-founding her own business and co-authoring three books, She explained that one of the things that she so enjoys about teaching design are the moments that her students finally catch on to concepts that they’ve been struggling with.
“Those aha moments are like little pieces of magic,” Visocky O’Grady said. “So if you get to do that for a living where you hang out in a classrooms and watch people find little pieces of magic, that’s a pretty cool job.”
She and her fellow faculty members in the department push their students towards not only being good designers but being, as she describes, “future casters.” In a world that is constantly evolving she teaches her students to not only create projects, but to be better at thinking creatively, visualizing and communicating their ideas — making them able to adapt and thrive in a world that’s always moving forward.
“I really love what I do every day. I very much value the career path I was launched on and the professors that helped me kind of find what a good fit for me was are people I still think about and are lessons I’m still reflecting on,” Visocky O’Grady said. “If just one thing, I said in one critique helps someone later, that’s just great.”