Spartans of UD: Marq Hicks

Sep 30, 2020

Spartans of UD highlights what makes University of Dubuque special – the people.

Marq Hicks, of Dubuque, Iowa, is a senior majoring in digital art and design.

1. Why did you decide to attend University of Dubuque?

“I decided to attend UD for several reasons. The main reason was the staff and instructors. Jill Groth was exceptionally dedicated to making sure I didn't fall through the cracks of the application and financial aid process. Professor James Cullen carved out time in the midst of pandemic to answer the laundry list of questions I had about classes and future job opportunities. After talking for about an hour about my love of comic books, video games, general nerdiness, and the next phase of my career, he offered to be my academic advisor and help me through the process. Mind you, I was not officially a student yet. I was just a guy who had a bunch of questions and was trying decide if I really wanted to go back to college again. When folks like that actually care about strangers, it makes me feel like they would never come up short for their actual students. I am currently in my second semester and that is by far the rule, not the exception. Professors Alan Garfield, Sheila Sabers, and Jean Holdener have all shown the same willingness to sit down and talk to students about life, school, and work and help you find out what worked for them and what may work for you.”

2. What do you enjoy most about digital art and design?

“Everything. In my previous times as a student, I was assigned tons of essays and research papers with an exacting focus on APA format, hypothesis support, and the dissection of peer-reviewed journals. My first DART project was arranging 3D elements to advertise for ‘Catch 'Em’ fishing baits. This is not to say that the DART program has been easy or unchallenging. Rather, it required a different skill set than I had previously used in college. Every DART class has challenged me to see each computer program, pencil, and marker as a tool that I must master and harness in order to make the intended mark on the page. Additionally, I have been working on my own novella/graphic novel for years and this program helps me to get a better understanding of what I need to get it off the ground.”

3. How has your experience before University of Dubuque helped you as a student?

“I am a retired United States Marine along with being alumnus of Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan, and Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Those three things gave me confidence that I could be successful anywhere. Add in my years of sales and coaching experience and I felt fairly confident. That said, in the US Marines, I was a helicopter mechanic. At LCC and CMU, I focused on/majored in communication, psychology, and substance abuse education. Neither of those things are direct transitions to drawing, painting, or creating a 3D advertising render for a fictional fishing company. That is why I lean on the advice of the staff here. As a salesman, I know when I'm being ‘sold’ something. I never felt like that when deciding to come here. Sure, it was nice that I already lived in Dubuque, but I would have easily chosen a different institution if I felt like it would have been better for me and my family. Thing is, I didn't. This is where I should be ... even if I arrived here with a few more years under my belt than my classmates.”

4. What, in your experience, is the biggest misconception about being a nontraditional student?

“I have been a nontraditional student before and the most common misconceptions are that we didn't have the opportunity or intelligence to go to college straight out of high school. Some folks hear the word ‘marine’ or ‘military’ and automatically default to stereotypes from movies. Lastly, some folks think we are wet blankets looking to spoil the collegiate experience for our less-seasoned peers. That could not be further from the truth.

“I went to college directly out of high school and regularly worked two jobs to avoid student loans. After 9/11, the world changed to me and I felt like there was a better way to protect my friends and family than buying the next round of beers and making sure they didn't drive home. Furthermore, in order to be an aviation mechanic, I needed to have a high mechanical aptitude and an understanding of spatial reasoning. That is a somewhat rare combination. Lastly, I have been to my fair share of parties both in and out of the US Marines. If asked, I would tell my classmates to be smart when you have fun.”

5. What advice do you have for other nontraditional students?

“Don't be afraid of being the ‘old’ person in class and don't be afraid to ‘swerve’ if you aren't enjoying your current situation. People grow and change. Sometimes our education and employment needs to evolve alongside us rather than define us. What you loved doing five years ago may not be as fulfilling today. Find out what you need to tweak in order to make your future brighter than today. We nontraditional students have unique experiences, both in our professional lives and personal lives. Don't waste it.”