Digital Media Student Andrew Zesiger Named 2018 KCAD Valedictorian

Posted April 30, 2018 in Student, Digital Art and Design

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) is pleased to announce Digital Media student Andrew Zesiger as the valedictorian of the college’s 2018 graduating class. Zesiger, a graduate of Gull Lake High School in Richland, Mich., will be honored during KCAD’s commencement on May 5, 2018.

Man standing in front of a wallimage courtesy of Andrew Zesiger

“Andrew is deserving of this honor not only for his academic achievements, but also because he exemplifies the same insatiable curiosity, technical versatility, and dedication to process that all successful creative professionals possess,” says KCAD President Leslie Bellavance. “Furthermore, he has bettered himself while also elevating those around him. KCAD is proud to have him represent our 2018 graduating class.”

Zesiger calls the honor “amazing,” but is quick to reflect his success back onto the KCAD community.

“There are so many great artists and designers here,” he says. “Being recognized this way is a huge honor, and to know that I’ll get to stand onstage and address all these people who I look up to is really humbling.”

In addition to being named valedictorian, Zesiger has also been announced as the Digital Media program’s 2018 Excellence Award winner. Each year, those graduating students who exhibit a rare level of mastery and accomplishment in their chosen field receive this honor, the epitome of KCAD undergraduate student achievement.

“Excellence does not happen in a void; a community is an important part of how we support one another and spur one another toward our better angels,” says Assistant Professor and Digital Art and Design Program Chair Brad Yarhouse. “Whether in a class critique, a group project, or an extracurricular activity, our community has been enriched by Andrew’s leadership. He will be missed.”

Comic panels of an empty car moving through space and time"The Legend of Ducktail Dan studies" by Andrew Zesiger (image courtesy of the artist)

In KCAD, Zesiger says he found the perfect environment to nurture a creative drive he’d been cultivating from a young age.

“By third grade I was making flip books with stick figure animations, but I had never seriously considered a career in art until I graduated high school and my parents told me I had enough potential that this could be a future for me. When I toured KCAD I said to myself, ‘this is where I want to be.’ It seemed like a place for people who were serious about making creativity a career.”

Both in and outside of the classroom, Zesiger made the most of his education by taking advantage of every opportunity that came his way. 

“When I saw how much you could explore here, I wanted to soak up as many different experiences as I could,” he says.

Zesiger was part of a team of digital artists at KCAD that developed the Miner Madness board game and website, projects aimed at getting students excited about computers and coding. He also helped create videos promoting mental health screenings for Mental Health America, and created assets for a virtual simulation intended to help users better empathize with individuals struggling with anxiety, dyslexia, and OCD.

Outside of class, he connected with guest speakers like John Giang of Industrial Light and Magic, KCAD alumnus James Suhr of Disney Animation Television, and Matt Clausen, a designer at NASA who developed virtual reality technology to help geologists explore Mars. Zesiger also interned with KCAD alumni and comic book creators Comfort Love and Adam Withers, created storyboards for independent filmmaker Tom Norton, participated on KCAD teams in the 24-hour international animation challenge, and helped fellow students pursue innovative expressions as a technician in KCAD’s digital fabrication facility, the Dow Center FLEXlab.

Comic panel showing various figures moving through a city"Legends of the East" by Andrew Zesiger (image courtesy of the artist)

“As KCAD student, Andrew has displayed a level of proficiency, professionalism, and commitment far beyond his years, and I’m confident he’ll carry the momentum he’s established her forward into a very successful career,” says Dean of Academic Affairs Charles Wright. “We’re proud to now count him among our alumni community, and we look forward to following his accomplishments.”

Upon graduating, Zesiger plans to pursue a career in the entertainment industry as a storyboard artist, animator, or concept artist. He’s focusing on the industry’s epicenter in California, but says he’s keeping an eye out for a “hidden gem” of an opportunity he may have not considered before.

“I’m approaching my career the same way I approached my education here at KCAD, just always being open to new things.”

You can learn more about Andrew Zesiger by reading a Q&A on the KCAD Blog, and see further examples of his work at

Work from Zesiger and the rest of KCAD’s 2018 graduating class will be featured in a series of exhibitions beginning May 1. The Excellence Awards Exhibition (May 1-16), hosted in The Fed Galleries @ KCAD inside the college’s Woodbridge N. Ferris Building (17 Pearl St. NW), will showcase work from the 17 graduating seniors who have been named Excellence Award winners for 2018. The Fed Galleries will also be hosting the Masters Thesis Exhibition (May 1-16), spotlighting the fully developed work of the 12 students who have completed their graduate studies.

The Annual Student Exhibition (May 1-5), featuring work from each of the college’s programs, will encompass all floors of the college’s 17 Fountain St. NW and Woodbridge N. Ferris Buildings. A campus-wide opening reception will be held on May 1 from 4-7pm.

All exhibitions are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

KCAD’s commencement will be held on Saturday, May 5, 2018 at Fountain Street Church. Tickets are required.