As a digital media major on the Lyndon campus, the computer lab was a hub where Monique Priestley discovered skills and connected with fellow students. With the career-focused curriculum, the opportunity to work on design projects with real clients at local businesses also gave her valuable experience.
“I loved the computer lab, seeing each other’s projects, and bouncing ideas back and forth. Everybody was super creative … It had a good feeling to it,” she said. “I also liked the flexibility to use my skills outside the classroom. We had a lot of team projects, so I learned about communication and working together.”
Career Preparation at NVU Provides a Solid Foundation
Monique uses all the skills she gained in her latest venture, The Space On Main, a Bradford, Vt, coworking nonprofit she founded in 2016, where she is executive director. The Space provides office amenities for makers and entrepreneurs in various fields and hosts community events.
The career preparation Monique received — and in a digital media master’s program at another university — also helps in her role as digital director for CampusCE Corp., a Seattle-based education-software service provider she works for remotely at The Space.
The critiques Monique shared with peers in the program provided a good foundation for her work for CampusCE and with her own design company. “That has helped along the way. Taking feedback and giving feedback constructively has been super helpful with any type of design job,” she said.
Communicating with local businesses when she led design projects also gave her a leg up after graduation. “I was engaged and learned how to have discussions with clients,” said Monique, who also earned an associate degree in graphic design.
In addition to the broad skills she perfected — in typography, web design, and editing, video production — a highlight of her education was supportive faculty. “They were always happy to be mentors. They were dedicated to students in a way that you don’t find at most schools,” Monique said. “There was encouragement to take things further and explore academically. The most important aspect of any school is being given tools to explore beyond what’s being asked.”
Her Successful Nonprofit Fills Multiple Needs
That instinct to explore opportunities inspired Monique to launch The Space as a gathering place for business people and the community. Using the tools she gained and in her graduate program, she developed a successful nonprofit.
“At the least, it’s bringing in people from Bradford and a 30-mile radius that haven’t really engaged with other people too much and who want a business network, partners, and a community,” Monique said. She hopes The Space will motivate other entrepreneurs to open businesses in Bradford too.
A Leader in Her Community
The Space isn’t the only way Monique has helped revitalize the Bradford area and beyond. The list of government boards and community service and business organizations she has been involved with on the local, state, and regional level is long.
Her many contributions have been recognized. Among other honors, she was named a Hero & Leader of the Upper Valley by White River Junction-based nonprofit Vital Communities, Vermonter of the Month by the state attorney general’s office and the Cohase Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.
“I think everyone has a responsibility to chip in, and I really enjoy it…Working with people who genuinely want to help the community always feels good,” Monique said. “I’m told that I inspire people to get involved. It would be great to know that people get involved as a result of the things I’m doing.”