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USM Students Named in Prestigious Graphic Design Magazine's Students to Watch List

Tue, 03/26/2024 - 10:30am | By: Ivonne Kawas

Graphic Design Student

Autumn Graves

Two students in The University of Southern Mississippi (USM)’s Art and Design program have been named to the highly anticipated 2024 Graphic Design USA (GDUSA) “Students to Watch” list.

USM Graphic Design seniors, Autumn Graves, of Hattiesburg, Miss., and Grace May of Puckett, Miss., were selected to be among this year’s cohort of aspiring designers due to their talent and potential to make significant contributions to the field.

Showcasing top emerging talents in the field of graphic design, the prestigious magazine GDUSA recognized 115 outstanding art and design students from all over the country, including undergrads, graduate students, and recent graduates.

Graphic Design Student

Grace May

“Both emerging designers have an exceptional work ethic and a talent that truly sets them apart, making it fitting for them to be acknowledged as among the best in the country,” said Jacob Cotton, associate professor of design. “Our graphic design program at Southern Miss boasts a storied history of outstanding alumni, including luminaries like AIGA Medalist Ann Willoughby, Rodney Richardson, and Michael Borosky. The consecutive recognition of seniors in our program even before graduation not only underscores the continuation of this illustrious legacy, but also serves as a powerful affirmation that our program is unequivocally on the path of sustained excellence.”


As seen in GDUSA magazine, Graves shared that she was homeschooled until college, which gave her the opportunity to tailor her education around her love for the arts from an early age. In high school, she focused on classes like painting, classical piano, and classic literature, influencing her creative direction and inspiration as an artist today.

Graves has shown a dedication to her craft by actively pursuing creative roles—on campus and locally. Currently, she works as the associate creative director for the program’s design and marketing team.

Beyond USM, she’s found opportunities to enhance her skills through her work with real-world clients, including her graphic designs for Temple Baptist Church. Upon graduation, she remains open to all opportunities, but hopes to pursue a career focused on her passion for illustration, branding, and publication design.

May also shared that she spent most of her high school years finding avenues to nurture and express her creativity. She always knew that she was meant to be an artist in some capacity, but she never imagined that graphic design was her calling.



May added that she finds a great deal of inspiration for her designs by going shopping at antique stores and finding little knick-knacks with cool designs. Anything vintage or unique in some way inspires her to go beyond her comfort zone and pursue creative ideas. Upon graduation, May remains open to the idea of designing for causes that are important to her and believes she could assist non-profits with finding success through forward-thinking campaigns and designs.

Graphic Design USA has served as an information source for graphic design professionals since 1963. In addition to the “Students to Watch” list, GDUSA also recognizes “Designers to Watch” and provides other information regarding design education.

Check out the 2024 GDUSA Students to Watch list. Learn more about USM’s Art and Design program.