Islander Graphic Design Students Assist Je’Sani Smith Foundation as Part of ONE DAY

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – By all accounts, Je’Sani Smith was a talented young man and athlete at Richard King High School who was dedicated not only to team but to his friends and family as well.

Two years ago, he was tragically swept away in a rip current while out swimming at Whitecap Beach, just eight days after his 18th birthday. To honor his memory, his parents, Kiwana and Terry Denson, created the Je’Sani Smith Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rip current awareness.

This year, students in the Graphic Design program in the Department of Art + Design at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi partnered with the Je’Sani Smith Foundation and the American Advertising Federation of Corpus Christi as part of AAF-CC’s annual ONE DAY volunteer project. During the Oct. 16 event, TAMU-CC students, alumni, and other professional volunteers spent the day creating a full suite of pro bono marketing and advertising deliverables for the Je’Sani Smith Foundation. For the students, it was valuable hands-on experience while contributing to a good cause. For the foundation, it was a priceless gift of $65,000 in advertising creative and media that could possibly safe lives.

“We are here now to make sure that another drowning doesn’t happen again,” Marketing Director Lucy Kernan said.

Kernan said while the target audience for the advertisement is the general public, the Je’Sani Smith Foundation would especially like to raise awareness via social media among likely beachgoers, including parents, high school students, and children.

TAMU-CC Graphic Design student Sarah Schiller ‘22 said she worked on T-shirt and keychain designs as a member of the promotional items team.

“I feel so honored to be able to help the Densons share that message of awareness,” she said. “I really hope to see the foundation’s message all over Corpus Christi to help prevent this type of tragedy from happening to any other kids and their families.”

The work that went in today was 100% a collaborative effort. We had alumni, current students, and professionals pitching in to create a memorable and effective campaign for a deserving local organization.

Nancy Miller, said TAMU-CC Graphic Design Coordinator and event organizer

The event ran 12 hours – from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. – with three sessions: concept and strategy, art creation, and team critique, ending with a presentation to the clients. The 35 volunteers were split into teams and made the following deliverables:

  • Foundation Brand Guide (Logo suite, typography and color standards)
  • Print ads in The Bend Magazine
  • Postcard, poster, brochure, vinyl banner, and yard sign designs
  • Vinyl billboards, digital billboards, bus benches, and bus shelter designs
  • La Palmera interior and exterior advertising executions
  • Stickers, keychains, koozies, magnets, beach towels, beach balls, tote bags
  • Copywriting for radio and a TV PSA commercial storyboard to be produced as a video in the upcoming months
  • Social media strategy, ads, and posts
  • Digital banner ads

The deliverables will be gradually rolled out over a three-year period.

“The work that went in today was 100% a collaborative effort,” said TAMU-CC Graphic Design Coordinator and event organizer Nancy Miller. “I’m thrilled with the way things went today. We had alumni, current students, and professionals pitching in to create a memorable and effective campaign for a deserving local organization.”

The clients also shared that same sentiment.

“The team absolutely hit on the key points that bring awareness,” Terry Denson said. “The designs, the wording – it should resonate with people; especially the yard signs, the advertising, the campaign: Everything that they did was fantastic.”

Kiwana Denson was equally thrilled to see the volunteers’ work.

“I’m super amazed that all of this happened literally in one day,” she said. “What was created between Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and the American Advertising Federation – it’s beyond my wildest dreams. Y’all wanna talk about teamwork? That was teamwork – to produce all of that in one day to benefit our organization.”