Alicia Varga headshot
Alicia Varga

For Alicia Varga, being the first in her family to go to college was not an easy journey. Varga had to learn how to navigate university life in a different city without familial advice or experience. Due to her powerful resiliency and perseverance as a first-generation student, she learned the tools and resources needed to help her become successful despite the added challenges she faced.

“What motivated me to become the first to go to college is that I just wanted to be different,” Varga said. “I wanted to be known for what I could do, and I wanted to work for somewhere that really needed me.”

When she transferred to Colorado State University from Red Rocks Community College in 2009, Varga knew that her passion lay within the arts. After taking a class at Red Rocks – one specifically designed to help students discover their strengths and guide them into a suitable career – Varga discovered her love for graphics and style. The class helped students pick careers best related to their personality types, attempting to help them find the best fit.

Her resilient personality and social strengths that came with being a first-generation student, as well as her love of art, typography, and design, led her to declare a bachelor of arts degree with a concentration in graphic design.

Children's Hospital Magazine Cover
Children’s Hospital Magazine Cover made by Alicia Varga.

During her time at CSU, Varga quickly realized she needed to set herself apart in this competitive field. She realized that connections within the field were important to finding success after graduation so she pursued an internship with a local graphic design business.

Since she wanted to work with him starting immediately after graduation, she stayed in regular contact with him, ensuring that she would not be forgotten in the time it took to finish her academics. “[Staying in constant contact] was really hard, but I knew how important this experience was for my future,” said Varga.

Since graduating in 2012, Varga has worked for various companies, each allowing her to apply and learn different skills. Her most notable work can be seen through the Children’s Hospital Campaign Magazine “Courage is…,” a 30-page donation piece that helped raise $350 million for medical research, and won her the Colorado Healthcare Communicators Silver Leaf Award in May of 2015.

Louisville Concert logo created by Varga.
Louisville Concert logo created by Varga.

“It took me two years into my job before I finally got a piece I could work on myself, which gave me a thrill I hadn’t had before,” said Varga. “The Children’s piece was completely from scratch with no direction, but it ended up going really well. They raised a lot of money and it was an honor to complete.”

Today, Varga is working on a concert event in Louisville, Colorado, building a 9 by 10 ft. logo that will be seen in the entire event. “You have to learn to be resilient and you’ve got to want [what you’re passionate about],” said Varga. “The design and art degree involved a lot of critiquing, and I have learned to critique myself to push me to where I am today.”



The Department of Art and Art History is in Colorado State University’s College of Liberal Arts.