Katrina Schmelter

"The truth is college is what you make it. If you go to a community college and push yourself to learn, you will come out with a much better education..."

Recent HCC graduate Katrina Schmelter has always had a passion for video game design. Some of her earliest digital art involved modifying textures in games. After being homeschooled and graduating in 2008, she enrolled in an online college to study graphic design only to find that the two-year degree she earned there would not transfer to any four-year university in Maryland. So she decided to attend Harford Community College because it was close to home and economical. At HCC there are knowledgeable academic advisors experienced in transfer procedures as well as faculty advisors available to help students like Katrina seamlessly transfer to four-year institutions.

At Harford, Katrina started on the graphic design track, but when she realized that she was more interested in animation and 3-D modeling, she switched her major to Art + Design, digital arts track. She joined the Student Artist Gallery Association. “I have been very happy with HCC and am somewhat sad that my time there is over. I really did not spend a lot of time on the other side of campus, but Joppa Hall was like a second home. I made many friends, including the teachers,” she said. The close-knit feeling was something that really surprised Katrina about Harford. “We were really like one big family, and we helped each other out whenever we could. Even in some of the online classes I took at HCC, there was a sense of community.”

“Most of my teachers have been very supportive and encouraging. Ken Jones is great, and he’s helped me by passing along job opportunities.” Katrina said that Ken recently gave her contact information for a local Internet TV and radio station, KHZTV, for whom she is now working freelance. “Eric Conrad is the most organized teacher I have had and a source of inspiration for me. He teaches because he really enjoys helping students. I’ve always enjoyed helping my classmates as well, so he has invited me to be a guest lecturer in the fall. After I earn my B.A. from Towson, I am seriously considering becoming a part-time teacher at HCC, thanks to Conrad.”

She has many happy memories of her time here. Katrina was very excited to be able to use a 3-D printer in the Mac Lab to print a teapot that she had modeled in Blender (open source 3-D graphics). She also enjoyed the closing reception of “Salon de Refuse” that included an art burn auction and a bonfire where students roasted marshmallows and took turns tossing works of art into the fire. One of her favorite courses was Design for the Web. A very small class, she enjoyed attending each week because she felt very close to her classmates as well as the instructor. “We had music playing, good conversations, and I learned a lot as well.”

She received a $500 scholarship for achieving a grade of “A” in the honors section of Art History II. “The funds helped me to pay off my tuition sooner. With the money I saved up, I was able to buy a new laptop after graduation.” Honors section courses are available to students who meet certain criteria and seek an enriched educational experience.

“I know many people who think that the education received at a community college is not on par with other universities. I have not found that to be true. I have grown a lot as an artist over my time at HCC, and I do not have any college debt. The truth is college is what you make it. If you go to a community college and push yourself to learn, you will come out with a much better education than if you went to a more expensive school and just partied all the time.”

This summer, she is doing freelance graphic design and web design jobs as well as studying game design on her own. Katrina plans to transfer to Towson University this fall to pursue a B.A. degree. She hopes to become a professional game designer and would love to work for Zenimax, a company that has studios in Hunt Valley and Rockville.