Meet our Alumni: Elaine Allen

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At 64, Elaine Allen was enjoying retirement. After leaving her law enforcement career 14 years before, she wasn’t looking to jump back into the workforce. But as fate would have it, she was about to get the chance to chase an old dream.

At the request of her diocesan, Allen was asked to spearhead a publication for the church group. With a creative streak and love of art since childhood, she jumped at the chance. It was only after she accepted the challenge that she realized she was going to need a little help.

“I had no clue what to do,” Allen recalled. “I started looking at the software that I would be using to create the publication and I knew I would need to training to do a good job.” That’s when she found the Digital Media Arts program at Washtenaw Community College.

Hooked on design

Consisting of 3D animation, digital video, graphic design technology, photography and web design and development, the DMA program at WCC offers both a certificate in Graphic Design and an Associate Degree.

With a robust design program at her fingertips, what started out as a few classes at WCC soon opened up into a new career path for the former police officer.

“I became very interested in what I was learning and I just kept going,” Allen said. “My goal was to be the very best that I could be.”

A goal made attainable, in part, to the faculty she encountered while at the college.

“I liked that the instructors are out working in the field they teach in. They have their finger on the pulse of what’s going on currently in their industries,” she said. “They push you beyond what you think you can do.”

Second career success

While reinventing yourself after retirement isn’t easy, it’s something Allen says anyone with the right dedication can do. “Sometimes we are our own worst enemy because we only think about our age, but as a mature adult we have a lot of life experience to offer. I’m here to say go for it.”

And go for it she did. Allen graduated with an Associate in Applied Science degree in Graphic Arts and runs her own freelance graphic design business.

“I have come full circle,” Allen said. “I didn’t actually go from law enforcement to design, I just returned to my first love after a long hiatus.”