Congratulations 2022 Summer Studio Graduates!

We recently marked the end of our 2022 course with a special graduation ceremony and exhibit at the University of New Haven. It was a celebration of the accomplishments of our students, and we were proud to present them with their graduation certificates and their own personal Microsoft Surface laptops.

After four weeks of being immersed in the world of graphic design and creating their own amazing work, the Summer Studio participants presented their finished designs to family and friends in a gallery setting. Julio Ramirez from i2Systems and Kim Lewis from NBC Olympics also joined the graduation as guest speakers to share their inspiring career journeys.

It was an incredible way to end the program. Check back here in the spring of 2023 for information about Summer Studio 2023.

Summer Studio: Discovering Graphic Design

Launched in July of 2021, Summer Studio is a free four-week program for 10 talented Bridgeport rising high school juniors and seniors interested in the visual arts. Built to encourage emerging artists to exercise their creativity, Summer Studio teaches the basic principles, skills and tools of great design while showcasing the possibilities of a career in the design industry.

What is Summer Studio?

In 2021, Summer Studio was created by Haddad & Partners in partnership with AIGA Connecticut and Sacred Heart University. Led by educators and industry professionals, Summer Studio explores design challenges like typography, composition and animation, while giving students hands-on Adobe Creative Suite experience. Participants complete projects that let them flex their vision while implementing the real-world skills they’re gaining in the program all while building a design portfolio.

Summer Studio is built to break barriers for better design. It aims to help remedy underrepresentation and diversify the creative industry of tomorrow. We recognize accessibility to tools and education in design is limited for most inner-city talent, and we would like to change that. In addition to offering college credits, this program provides all supplies free of charge including a Microsoft Surface laptop, a year subscription to Adobe Creative Suite, meals and transportation. The estimated value of this program is $5,500+ per student. Summer Studio prepares participants for college, especially if they choose to pursue a design major. Additionally, we’d like to show that graphic design is a pathway to a creative career in many industries. Students meet mentors in industries like media, entertainment and advertising—opening career pathways where art is an option.

If you would like to help us make this happen, or you want to be kept in the loop, drop us a line.

Our Amazing Partners

The mission of AIGA CT is to champion, inspire and activate the Connecticut creative community.

AIGA advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage and vital cultural force. As the largest community of design advocates, we bring together practitioners, enthusiasts, and patrons to amplify the voice of design and create the vision for a collective future. We define global standards and ethical practices, guide design education, enhance professional development, and make powerful tools and resources accessible to all.


  • Advancing the design  community through opportunity and spotlighting members
  • Supporting  design education through school partnerships, workshops and upgrading skill-sets
  • Fostering inclusion and advocacy through community engagement


  • Inspire our community through new ideas, methods and ideologies
  • Inspire through access to creative leaders
  • Encourage discovery and exploration


  • Bring the community to life through mentorship, events and networking
  • Ask questions and engage with the community beyond AIGA
  • Take action with  Design for Good

In 2022, Summer Studio’s partner is University of New Haven, with its distinctive colleges, specialized schools, and over 100 academic programs on offer. The University of New Haven truly has something for everyone. Students can select their field of study from a variety of options including engineering, health sciences and healthcare, business, law enforcement and public services, the liberal arts and sciences, and the fine arts. During their studies, they’re encouraged to immerse themselves in transformative, career-focused education, helping set them up for long-term success.

Summer Studio was proud to partner with Sacred Heart University for 2021, a school rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition and focused on the liberal arts. With their forward-thinking and dedication to social justice, this university helps its students in all areas of life, preparing them to make a difference in the global community. They were truly the perfect match for our inaugural session.

What’s the good word?

As high school kids, when our parents and mentors tell us ‘You will never make money as an artist,’ the silver lining here is that at least someone cares, and that’s really the most important part. The problem is that they lack the vocabulary and the experience to articulate the full spectrum of high-paying careers that the term ‘artist’ entails. DJ Haddad, Founder & Creative Director, Haddad & Partners

I remember when I was little, I always wanted to do art. But they never had descriptor words or jobs that I could have potentially seen for myself. But I feel like Summer Studio definitely opened me up to more than just ‘oh you can just major in art and you’ll be fine.’ Megan Harris, Participant, Summer Studio 2021

In the field of graphic design, underrepresentation–specifically in terms of racial diversity–is still a very real problem. We designed Summer Studio to help break down some of the contributing accessibility barriers, with the purpose of helping build a more inclusive next generation of industry creatives. Nicolet Gatewood, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Haddad & Partners

What’s the good word?

The students learned that they can actually have a career in this and make money doing art. That’s a really wonderful realization and that was really inspiring for them.
Mary Treschitta, M.A., M.A.T., M.F.A.
Associate Professor, Chair of Art & Design Department, Sacred Heart University

We captured a pool of talent that has a personality, that has a point of view and something to say, and that’s something that’s difficult to find. Julio Ramirez, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, AIGA CT

Graphic design allows me to continue doing the art that I want to do. It gives me opportunity, and this program as a whole opened my eyes even more. Kothan Nieves, Participant, Summer Studio 2021

Get Involved!

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