CCAD recognizes outstanding seniors

Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) art sign

Every year at Columbus College of Art & Design, faculty members from each major select an Outstanding Senior based on their academic and artistic accomplishments.

Here are the Outstanding Seniors from the Class of 2016:


Zach Wilke

As a Columbus native, Zach was involved with CCAD through Saturday Morning Art Classes from a young age. With passions for design and photography, he found that CCAD was the place to explore both. He believes in the power of these disciplines to make a positive impact on culture, and likewise has left a positive mark on the college. Zach has been involved in leadership of the Advertising & Graphic Design Student Collective and the Chroma Senior Thesis Committee. He participated in the Off-Campus Study in New York program, helped establish the Advertising & Graphic Design photo studio, and was involved in projects and volunteer work for the Columbus Society of Communicating Arts and the American Advertising Federation — receiving awards for his work from both. Having completed internships at Ibel Agency and Fahlgren Mortine, Zach plans to pursue a career doing both design and photography, working among a small team of  creatives in Columbus, before considering moving on to  experience other parts of the country.


Nick Watkins

Nick began his education in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, at Jefferson Community College. In 2013, Nick’s illustration professor (and CCAD alum) Mark Cable recommended CCAD. As a result, Nick made the choice to transfer to pursue his interest in storytelling and character development in the Animation Program. Nick is a leader both in production and practice. His junior film won second place at the World Animation Celebration, and he led the Fall 2015 Animation Lab Team class in their production of the film Ignite as the Project Manager. Nick’s advice to current and prospective students: “Stay involved and take charge while at CCAD. Do your best to step out of your comfort zone and do things you would have never believed you could. You’ll most certainly surprise yourself!”


Sean Dunn

A Columbus transplant originally from upstate New York, Sean instantly fell in love with CCAD during his time at College Preview. Interested in film and animation from a young age, Sean was able to make his dreams a reality at CCAD. Sean’s recent work revolves around modern romanticism as well as absurdist humor. Sean has been the president of the Cinematic Arts Student Collective for the past two years. He also interned with local companies including Origo Branding, Ologie, Ohio Film Group, and he recently attended Blend, a motion graphics conference in Vancouver. Following graduation, Sean plans to work in post-production for feature films.


Lauren Metelitz

Lauren left her hometown of Los Angeles to embark on a new journey and take her love for fashion to an unfamiliar scene, one with many new faces and open doors. Lauren never touched a sewing machine before she arrived at CCAD; now she has completed her senior thesis collection. CCAD has been a world of learning and opportunity for her. Lauren has been on both the Dean’s and President’s list every semester during her time here, and she also received the Columbus Fashion Week Student Scholarship Award this past fall.  Outside of her CCAD studies, Lauren won first place in the Planned Parenthood Condom Couture Fashion show her junior year and this past summer interned at Abercrombie & Fitch. Lauren’s ultimate goal as a designer is to work her way up at a high-end fashion label, learn the industry inside and out and eventually take on her own brand of women’s ready-to-wear fashion.


Laura Thatcher

A native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Laura chose CCAD because she wanted to attend a small school, somewhere she had never been before. As Laura said, “I became an artist so I could trespass boundaries, disciplines and constructs and explore ideas through experience and practice. Art has the potential to create meaning and communicate something of importance through a radical delivery.” An active and engaged artist, Laura collaborated on Currents, a feminist magazine at CCAD. She’s a docent and member of the installation crew at Beeler Gallery. And she was a volunteer for Grrrrl Rock Camp and Citizen Jane Film Festival. Laura has been an intern at Strand Releasing and 356 Mission, both located in Los Angeles. Her work has been exhibited at MINT in Columbus, and at The 4th Basement Media Fest at Spectacle in Brooklyn. Laura plans to pursue graduate education and artist residency programs upon graduation, and to follow whatever art opportunities manifest, to continue her studio practice and to be part of an artistic community.


Christopher Passabet

Christopher has proven to be a remarkable student, tempering his raw talent with an unquenchable thirst for exploration and a strong work ethic. His generosity and natural leadership skills have earned him the respect of his peers both in the classroom and as part of student groups, such as the Illustration Capstone Committee. He was the recipient of the Society of Illustrators’ Lila Dryer Scholarship and one of three national finalists for the Will Eisner Scholar Award. As part of CCAD’s Spitball Anthology, he worked with the award-winning author Matt Fraction. Originally from Port Clinton, Ohio, Christopher says his ultimate goal is to travel outside of the Midwest and work in publishing while creating his own comics.


Russell Kittel

A great aesthetic is just the starting place for Russ. His designs have a purpose — to improve or save the lives of others. And his contributions to his industry are already recognized by the professional world. His designs have received a Spark Award and recognition from the Columbus Technical Council, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the 47th Annual Ohio Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. He is also creator and member of the CCAD Industrial Design Student Collective, a scholarship recipient and has been on the President’s List eight times.


Sonja Thams

After high school graduation, Sonja was accepted into the University of Louisville Art Program before transferring to CCAD her sophomore year. She was drawn to CCAD because of its small class sizes and community feel. Sonja uniquely leads this Interior Design community by example — other students look up to her and seek out her opinions and guidance. While at CCAD, Sonja was the recipient of several awards including the Suzie Edwards Endowed Scholarship, the Timothy Nesse Scholarship and the Design Group Scholarship. She has been on the President’s List every year and has been the CCAD Project Design Intern for two years. As an interior designer, she focuses on creative, sustainable qualities in her work and credits this design, creative and entrepreneurial spirit to her parents, who are in both the business and design field. This passion for entrepreneurship and sustainability has led her to several ventures that range in scale and discipline — from real estate projects to designing and creating her own textile and clothing line. Sonja plans on opening her own interior design boutique in September 2016.


Tamrin Ingram

Born in Winnsboro, Louisiana, Tamrin has always been an artist at heart. She spent her childhood exploring and creating whenever and wherever she could. While at CCAD, Tamrin studied Photography and Fine Arts and has been on the President’s List for seven semesters. Tamrin’s work utilizes photography as well as printmaking and sculpture to make viewers question their opinions, investigate unfamiliar topics or simply laugh. Tamrin is currently a photography intern with (614) Magazine, a photographer for the CCAD Student Agency, and has work in Issue 8 of Botticelli Art & Literature Magazine. Tamrin has had work accepted in the CCAD annual student exhibition for the last three years. She continues to exhibit work in several venues beyond CCAD, including Sean Christopher Gallery in Columbus, Ohio, featuring her photographs and installation work. This summer, Tamrin plans to embark on her latest journey documenting the southern landscape and exploring the swamps of her native Louisiana with an eye towards future graduate studies and exhibitions.


The Class of 2016 will graduate on Saturday, May 14, 2016, at the Palace Theatre. Read more about commencement here.