Meet Grace Pistulka, AAF Nebraska Student Member

Meet Grace Pistulka, AAF Nebraska Student Member | University of Nebraska at Kearney
Student, Junior Designer at Screen Machine, and Assistant Web Editor at the Museum of Nebraska Art

Say hello to Grace Pistulka. A Wilcox, Nebraska native, a senior at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) and AAF Nebraska student member. Pistulka will receive her Bachelor of Arts degree from UNK’s Visual Communication and Design program this coming spring. As a soon to be graduate, Pistulka said she “blinked” and her college years filled with countless experiences will soon be history. In May of 2021, AAF Nebraska congratulated Pistulka for her outstanding achievements at UNK awarding her a $2,000 scholarship for her 2021-2022 academic year.

In kindergarten, Pistulka – with a paintbrush in hand – knew her creative vision was to become an artist. But, it took Pistulka a few years to realize she could turn her dreams of being an artist to reality and a career. During high school, Pistulk attended Imagination Day at UNK during her junior and senior years which helped her realize her potential and explore her opportunities.

Each semester at Imagination Day, area high school students come to UNK’s Art and Design department where they are challenged to imagine their future. During her visits, Pistulka  participated in a variety of workshops taught by faculty assisted by Art and Design major students. Workshops and demonstrations included photography, printmaking, 3D modeling, painting, glassblowing, letterpress, screen-printing and ceramics. Pistulka experienced firsthand what being a college student would be like while seeing the opportunities available in art-centric careers. Pistulka said, “Imagination Day landed her at UNK the fall of 2018 as a college freshman.” The atmosphere at UNK and the community of creative students in the Art and Design department made her decision easy to select UNK for her college experience.

During Pistulka’s sophomore year at UNK she was encouraged by UNK professor Richard Schuessler to attend AAF Nebraska’s Meet the Pros two-day student conference. During a recent AAF Student Resources call with Professor Schuessler he shared that Grace is their  outstanding Design Senior this academic year. Schuessler said “Grace’s passion and dedication has been strong in the Visual Communication and Design courses and activities. Throughout the last couple years, even during the COVID event on campus, Grace has been an active leader in her design courses and has helped other students.” Schuesser further shared, “Grace has plenty of design ability, talent in the areas of print and web design. She has been invaluable in helping with the Department activities (Imagination Day), workshops, and projects. Grace is a great example for future design students.” 

Pistulka has attended Meet the Pros twice and looks forward to attending again in 2022 on March 3 and 4, 2022 at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Omaha, NE. Pistulka said, “when I attended Meet the Pros during my sophomore year (2020) I had never been in a room with so many creative people at once before.” However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, her 2021 Meet the Pros experience was a little different. But Pistulka still found value in the virtual conference, “I had a great virtual experience with informative speakers that I learned a lot from.” This especially was found during her portfolio reviews which gave her the opportunity to talk with professionals about her work. Pistulka was grateful for the professionals that gave her one-on-one time with many great tips to enhance and improve her portfolio.

In addition to Pistulka’s full-time student status she enjoys working as a Junior Designer at Screen Machine in Holdrege, Nebraska on weekends and school breaks. Screen Machine is the place to go in Holdridge for custom screen printing and embroidery needs – school and team apparel, business apparel, hats, and more. After graduation Pistulka hopes to continue growing and creating for Screen Machine.

As an extracurricular activity, Pistulka works with UNK on the upkeep of the Museum of Nebraska Art (MONA) website as an Assistant Web Editor. Recently she worked on UNK’s annual fundraiser, KINDRED, an annual fundraising initiative targeted to help maintain and improve the UNK’s Department of Art and Design offerings and facilities. Additionally, Pistulka also enjoys creating short videos of fellow students’ work on display in the Walker Art Gallery on the UNK campus.

AAF Nebraska president Ann Woodford with Ronald McDonald House Charities in Omaha recently stated, “it is students like Pistulka that allow the federation the opportunity to foster the next generation of advertising, marketing, and visual communication professionals.” AAF Nebraska wishes Pistulka well as she completes her BA at UNK, and we look forward to seeing her in-person during Meet the Pros 2022 in March. 

About AAF Nebraska Scholarships

AAF Nebraska has endowment scholarship funds with the University of Nebraska Foundation and the Creighton University Foundation. Annually up to eight $500, $1,000, and $2,000 scholarships are available. AAF Nebraska awarded three $2,000 scholarships in May 2021.

AAF Nebraska proudly supports students pursuing careers in advertising, marketing, graphic design, and communications. Offering scholarships is one of the many ways AAF Nebraska helps students meet their goals and helps to build future leaders for our communities throughout Nebraska and our industry. Over the past 14 years AAF Omaha (now AAF Nebraska) has awarded more than $145,000 in scholarship funds to area students.

For more information, application criteria and the AAF Nebraska scholarship application visit Scholarship Opportunities | AAF Nebraska (aafnebraska.org).

About AAF Nebraska Meet the Pros

Meet the Pros is an annual conference sponsored by AAF Nebraska. Designed to give college students an opportunity to explore careers in the advertising industry, discover what trends are developing in the industry and ignite their careers by making professional contacts. Meet the Pros offers direction in academic studies, work options and extracurricular activities that will assist students in achieving their career objectives. The two-day conference includes skill-building workshops, portfolio reviews, agency tours and professional round table meet and greets.

To learn more about Meet the Pros visit Meet the Pros | AAF Nebraska. And if you are interested in volunteering to work on the Meet the Pros planning committee, contact the AAF Nebraska office, or Board chairs Kevin Olive or Erin Buhrman.

-Teri Hamburger, Executive Director
AAF Nebraska


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