The Advertising and Graphic Design program of Wilkes Community College, designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for employment in the graphic design profession, emphasizes design, advertising, and illustration, as well as digital and multimedia preparation of printed and electronic promotional materials. Students learn to develop concepts and designs for promotional materials such as newspaper and magazine advertisements, posters, folders, letterheads, corporate symbols, brochures, booklets, preparation of art for printing, lettering and typography, photography, and electronic media.

l-r: Kate Irwin and Colleen Cassell

Kate Irwin, the owner of Kate Ink, LLC, is an instructor at the WCC Alleghany Center in the Advertising and Graphic Design program. Through her business, she also partners with the college to provide work-based learning opportunities for students in the program. Irwin stated, “As an owner of a graphic design and multimedia small business, I understand the need to be involved in preparing students to fill the talent pipeline in the graphics arts industry. It is a pleasure and privilege to mentor students through WCC’s work-based learning program. It is very exciting to me to share space, time, and inspiration with them in their journey to master graphic design.”

Colleen Cassell of Glade Valley is one of those students who work with Irwin through the work-based learning program. In her second year of the Advertising and Graphic Design program, Cassell shared, “I have really enjoyed being able to intern with Kate Irwin. I am super excited about all that I have learned with Kate and cannot wait to learn more!” During the summer, Irwin also taught a graphic design class for rising sixth through eighth graders through WCC’s summer STEAM camp. In the four-hour class, students worked as a team to dream up a story, then used Illustrator to make that story come to life in a book that they were able to take home.

WCC Alleghany Center Director, Wanda Beck shared that there were gasps of excitement from the students as they received their books. “They were so excited to see their finished product! If a student enjoys drawing or designing, they should seriously consider graphic design as a career. WCC’s summer STEAM camps are a great way for our local middle school students to explore various careers, such as graphic design, welding, forensic science, and more. We are planning to expand our STEAM classes at the Alleghany Center in 2023 from five to eight to give our local students more opportunities for career exploration.”

For more information about WCC’s Advertising and Graphic Design program at the Alleghany Center, contact Elizabeth Simons at or 336-903-3148.