An assignment in his Electronic Illustration class to work with a real-life client proved to be a valuable learning experience for second-year computer graphic arts (CGA) student Matthew Borginis.
Throughout the fall semester, Borginis, along with 29 of his Rowan College at Gloucester County (RCGC) peers, worked to design placemats for the Gloucester County Office of Consumer Affairs Serv-a-Tray program, alerting senior citizens about scams and other fraudulent activities. Initiated to educate and help protect older and disabled county residents from unsavory swindlers, Education Liaison Freeholder Lyman Barnes and Consumer Affairs Director Harold Spence teamed up with RCGC Associate Professor Mary Malinconico offering CGA students a unique opportunity to showcase their work. Spence met with the class at the start of the semester to provide content information and specification details before challenging students to a friendly competition — one placemat would be chosen for distribution to Gloucester County Serv-a-Tray recipients and used for consumer education presentations.
"I am happy that I won and feel lucky that my placemat was selected because my fellow classmates are all very talented," said Borginis, a Game/Interactive Design major. "This was my first time working with a client. It was fun, a little stressful but I feel better prepared for the next time. I am proud of my piece and much more confident now in my work."
Borginis, of Sewell, estimates that from conception to presentation, his placemats took approximately 100 hours to complete, which included researching how to design for senior citizens, sketching ideas on paper and drawing his own graphics. The students were provided with the text and a list of layout requirements for both the front and back of the placemat.
"I was approached by the County to see if our students would like the opportunity to design the placemats," said Malinconico. "The project was planned so that the students would meet with the client to obtain important details regarding the design, then create three different placemats. Finally at the end of the semester, the students selected their favorite design, dressed in professional attire and made a presentation to Freeholder Barnes and Director Spence."
Barnes and Spence admitted it was difficult to pick just one placemat from the 30 that were submitted. Through a careful process of elimination based on content and ease of reading and understanding from a senior citizen's point of view, Borginis' design came out on top. He will receive a certificate of appreciation from the Freeholders Office at a future board meeting.
"Matthew's placemat will be given to members of area senior clubs and to our Serv-a-Tray clients," said Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger.
"Every student made thoughtful and professional presentations to 'sell' their placemat to the judges," noted Spence. "Considering they had to make the presentations to county officials and their entire class, they handled the task with real tenacity and purpose. They are all to be thanked and congratulated."
"The County is appreciative of the computer graphic arts students' efforts to provide our senior residents with this information. The placemat informs on how seniors can protect themselves from scam artists and others who may try to take advantage of them," said Barnes. "The placemats will be a daily reminder for Gloucester County residents to stay alert when dealing with any business. The Office of Consumer Affairs contact information is also readily available."
"This assignment proved to be a great learning exercise for our computer graphic arts students. It gave them the opportunity to have their work seen outside of the classroom, use their talent and skills to meet the needs of a real client and then articulate their design ideas during a presentation," stated RCGC President Frederick Keating. "Our College has an outstanding computer graphic arts program and in 2017 was ranked number one in New Jersey by Universities.com. Projects like this are the reason why."
For more information about RCGC's Computer Graphic Arts program, visit
RCGC.edu/business or watch a video at