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Graduating Senior Traveled to China to Better Help International Students Here at UC

Although in a high-pressure program in the School of Design, senior Ryan Finke spent a semester studying at a language program in Beijing in order to be more welcoming to international students on UC’s campus.

Date: 3/10/2014
By: M.B. Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Provided
University of Cincinnati graduating senior Ryan Finke, 23, of Northside, is enrolled in a program that even he calls “workaholic and perfectionist” in UC’s top-ranked College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), which houses programs well known for requiring significant work loads.

Even so, he took the time to step away from his studies in the graphic communication design program last spring semester in order to participate in a language program in Beijing, China – all in the effort to be more welcoming to international students on campus. (Not to mention that he took the time to study abroad right before getting married to his wife, Liz, who graduated UC with a master’s in public health last year.)
Ryan Finke
UC's Ryan Finke in China.

He explains, “For three years, I’ve been involved in outreach on campus to international students in terms of social services and my church. But, I knew that I really did not know what it was like to go through culture shock and language difficulties, how could I really know what it’s like to live and study in another country without experiencing it myself.”

Finke adds that his time abroad helped him grow in empathy and patience, and he states, “I can also say to our students from China that I know something of their culture, and that it’s a very rich culture. It’s more than just words now.”

The broader perspective he earned by studying abroad is matched by the broad professional perspective Finke also earned by studying within DAAP’s School of Design and by participating in UC’s top-ranked cooperative education program housed within Professional Practice and Experiential Learning.

He came to the graphic communication design program after having helped operate an entrepreneurial web design and development partnership in high school (at St. Xavier High School) with a friend. And because of his interest in digital design and participation in the INTERalliance of Greater Cincinnati (an organization devoted to nurturing IT talent), he met students from DAAP and eventually opted to pursue his college studies here.

Says Finke, “The best part of having come to UC is that the program in DAAP helped me to explore different areas of design. I gained experience in web sites, but also experience in, for instance, story telling via film. If I’d only gone through a web design and development certificate course somewhere, it wouldn’t have led me to where I am now.”

Here, he’s gained valuable co-op work experiences, such that with his co-op earnings, annual Cincinnatus Scholarship award, other scholarships and some help from his family, Finke will graduate without debt this April. In addition, he’ll start work full time upon graduation for one of his co-op employers, Midwest New Media, LLC, in Clifton.

Those co-ops, which included working for Gaslight Software LLC, helped Finke hone a variety of skills. For instance, he completed a case study video showing the work of the firm. That project allowed the company to show the work they’d done in order to win future clients.

“That and another film project were especially satisfying for me,” he explains. “It showed me the impact of my education. I had learned good story telling skills at DAAP, that I was good at what I was doing and always improving.”

Another project Finke is especially proud of grew out of a course he took that teamed fashion design students with those in graphic communication design. In that course, he made a video examining how retailers can emphasize cultural diversity via fashion. The resulting video  earned a national third place in the Royal Society of Arts-U.S. Student Design Awards competition, an undergraduate competition to inspire collaborative design-led social change in the areas of architecture, interiors, urban transit, industrial design, fashion and textiles.