Meet Sarah Sterner-Hausknecht—MFA student

Hello my Name is… Sarah Sterner-Hausknecht!

Hello! My name is Sarah Sterner-Hausknecht. I know. It’s a crazy long name. My name, like my life, used to be simple…and then I got married. Let’s back up a little. I discovered not only a love for art, but also a sense of belonging, during an advanced art class in high school. As someone who thrives on and enjoys being busy, I was involved in a lot of activities and had many friends and close acquaintances within the groups of people I participated in those activities with. But I never quite felt right and was often plagued with a feeling of not “belonging”. That all changed as soon as I stepped foot in an art class. I immediately felt welcomed and that I was “home” and had found my place. Closer to graduation my art teacher urged me to pursue Graphic Design. I started out at a local community college and then transferred into the undergraduate KUCD Design program at Kutztown University. My experience in the undergraduate KUCD program solidified my love and passion for design. I enjoyed every moment of the “design-butt-kicking” and plentiful “creative-boot-camp” sessions. Upon graduation I freelanced at a couple of companies and then accepted a full-time position with an in-house design group. Fast-forward 10-years and this is where it starts to get crazy Got married and had my first daughter. I was un-prepared for the conflict of feelings I had of being torn between my love and passion for design and for my newborn baby girl. I drug myself back to work after 3 months of enjoying non-stop, blissful, snuggle moments. I felt as though my heart wasn’t with design anymore. After 6-months, I took a leap off the cliff of comfortability and quit my full-time job in order to spend more time with my family. Then I missed art. I decided to start my own freelance-design business which quickly became a happy balance that consisted of my love for design AND snuggles with my daughter. The move away from my full-time career also opened my schedule up to include teaching a communication design course at a community college. I discovered that I loved inspiring a passion for design into others as much (perhaps even more) as I enjoyed creating. A love for teaching became the initial catalyst in my decision to go back to school and apply to Kutztown University’s M.F.A. program in Communication Design.

Why I decided to go back to grad school…

Over time, my career journey has grown and taken various paths that has led me to KUCD’s MFA program. I decided that if I were to enter the full-time workforce again, I wanted it to be teaching full-time, which will require the next level degree. I also found my freelance career becoming stagnant, stale and uninspired. I am attending KUCD’s MFA program to build on my teaching capabilities, to re-fresh the perspective that I bring to my freelance business and also for myself. I am now a mother of two amazingly magical daughters. Outside of art & design, they are my entire world and I am their primary caregiver. I find that I give so much of myself as well. Attending the program is as much for me for self-care reasons as it is for growing my freelance business and teaching careers.

Tell us about/describe your KUCD MFA journey thus far…

I feel like the squeal of joy, that emitted from me on day I received my acceptance into the KUCD MFA program, could have been heard around the world. Excitement quickly turned to panic as I pondered what would be instore for me during that first Journey Week of the program. Journey Week was AMAZING! Emotionally it was a roller-coaster journey from anticipation to defeat; enthusiasm to self-doubt. Journey Week can be described as an intensive of collaboration between other students enrolled in the program and the professors. They are there for you every step of the way, supporting and inspiring your work. There are deadlines (homework) every day. But this is to ensure the proper amount of exploration and growth of your work while on-campus. That work will act as the springboard for your work starting week two. You can expect a tour of the Sharadin Art building and all their printing/fabrication capabilities. During journey week you can get to know your peers, collaborate, and experience a letterpress adventure where you take a hands-on approach learning the basics of how to set type and work a table-top letterpress.

What has been your favorite project to date? Please tell me why.

I am very excited about the projects I am currently working on. Shortly before starting journey week I became sick with Lyme Disease which inspired me to formulate a field guide approach to identify and understand common vector-born diseases regionally. I also plan to include an “on-the-go” kit that will have a quick reference card, materials to repel insects and treat bites, and tick extraction tools (featured for this region). Another project I’m working on is a “Try Kit” that parents can use to work with their children to get comfortable with and celebrate failures. Experiencing failure fosters growth for success and instilling that concept in our children can be beneficial to how they approach failure in the future. The kit will contain literature for parents and chart style positive reinforcement for each time your child continues to try a task, whether they have failed or not, by earning stickers and badges. There will also be trading cards to explore with your child that each feature well known people throughout history that experienced failure in order to achieve that great accomplishments your child may be learning about in school.

Fun fact about you.
In general, I consider myself not to be very interesting. I purposefully keep myself very busy, constantly on-the-go, and absolutely positively cannot live without CHOCOLATE! I practiced ballet for 26 years of my life and of the many activities I have tried and practiced throughout my life the ones I continue to enjoy doing are basket weaving and practicing calligraphy.