For graphic design major Jalise Hinton, a senior project wasn’t just something to finish so she could graduate – it was an opportunity to push herself and gain real-life experience while raising awareness of something she cared about.

Hinton’s design, a photo of a driver texting the message “c u l8r” with the slogan, “Will these be your final words?” addresses the dangers of texting while driving. In her research, Hinton found that texting while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk.

She chose to design the series of display signs and billboards because for her, billboards are a difficult design.

“I tend to always do something I struggle with,” Hinton said.

When she expanded her project and decided to put her advertisements up around town, she took on another challenge altogether. To post her signs she had to have space donated, pay for printing, and spend the necessary hours working on the design. For help paying for the printing she turned to a student service provided by UVU, the Center for Engaged Learning.

“Jalise … has taken what she’s learned in the classroom and applied it on her own,” said Vincent Fordiani, director of the Center for Engaged Learning.

Since 2007 the Center has provided 328 engaged learning opportunities and $1.2 million for students around the school, according to Fordiani. Like Hinton, many of these students partnered with a faculty-member sponsor and were able to carry out their projects with aid from the center’s grants.

“Most companies didn’t take me seriously until I had a payment,” Hinton said.

Once she had the money for printing, Outdoor Promotions helped get her design installed on donated bus benches and shelters in Provo. Taking it a bit further, Hinton contacted Yesco about a billboard and eventually got a spot in Salt Lake. She is pleased with the results.

“I can graduate happy now because I’ve used the school in the best ways I could,” said Hinton.