Hometown: Danbury, Conn.
Major: Art - Graphic Design
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Arts, Graphic Design
Internships: WCSU Office of University Publications & Design
Activities: 2010 "One Book, One Community" panel discussion participant,
SVO - Student Veterans Organization from its inception, WXCI Morning Show 2009-10,
Alpha Sigma Lambda,
University Assistant for the Office of Student Affairs, currently a full-time freelance graphic designer and Web developer for Typoglyphic Studios in Waterbury, Conn.
Honors and Awards: Dean's List every semester,
Barnard Student Achievement Award,
Alpha Sigma Lambda (Adult Honors),
Citation by The Connecticut General Assembly for Academic Achievement
Bryan Bielefeldt started his college career in 1998 at Briarwood College in Southington, Conn., but he took an inspiring and circuitous path on his way to a Western degree. "I left Briarwood in 1999 to work for my parents' carpet-cleaning business with plans to become a partner," he says. "On Sept. 11 2001, I was cleaning hallways in a condo complex in Danbury when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. I was at the truck taking a break and heard it over the radio. When I heard what they where talking about, I sat and waited, long enough to hear them talk about the second plane. That was the point at which my life changed. That week I enlisted in the U.S. Army as an Airborne Infantryman with hopes of avenging our losses."
In October 2001, Bielefeldt departed for Fort Benning, Georgia, leaving behind his family, friends and high school sweetheart, Kelly Fitzgerald. "On March 29, 2002, Kelly and I were married in Opelika, Ala., and on May 22, 2002, I was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, in Vicenza, Italy," Bielefeldt recounts. On March 26, 2003, he was part of the largest combat parachute assault since the Vietnam War in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. "In 2008, after exiting the military and working for a while, I enrolled at WCSU, transferring 19 credit hours. I completed the B.A. graphic design degree program in three years while minoring in computer science," he says. Why did he end up at Western? "I grew up across the street and several of my friends had graduated from Western's art department. It came highly recommended."
It may seem like a large leap to go from Airborne Infantryman to art, but Bielefeldt has his reasons. "I am a disabled veteran so hard labor was out of the question and being from the airborne infantry there were really only two options: police or security guard and neither was appealing," Bielefeldt explains. "I was always a creative individual so graphic design and Web development was a perfect fit.
Because of his background as a veteran, Bielefeldt says he has tried to be heavily involved with veterans’ affairs. "I have assisted with financial and registration packets and designed logos and done print marketing for the student veteran groups," he says. “I didn’t think of it as community service because I came from there. It seemed like the right place to be.”
Bielefeldt says several university staffers were helpful to him. "Director of University Publications & Design Jason Davis served as a mentor to me by giving me the opportunity to excel and by reeling me in when I was pushing too hard," he says. "In fact, all the staff in the publications office have helped my growth as a professional and a designer. Campus Photographer Peggy Stewart, Associate Director Irene Sherlock, Assistant Directors Ellen Myhill and Freddy Paine, and University Assistants Connie Conway and Jane Walsh, have all affected my path. Without their guidance, I wouldn't have given myself a chance. The experience that the University Publications & Design Office has given me was just as important as the actual degree program. I wish more of the students in the art department could have had the same opportunity I did; it should be part of the program!"
Asked what he will remember most about his WestConn experience, Bielefeldt says, "Being told I was being awarded the Barnard Student Achievement Award.”
Bielefeldt is currently enrolled in the Post University Master of Business Administration program, with a focus on marketing. He's also trying to build his business as a design and marketing firm called Typoglyphic Studios. "Ultimately I want to return to WCSU as a Web design and development professor in the art department," he says.
Bielefeldt’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: “You will only get out of this what you put into it! Don't be lazy.”