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April 21, 2017

Burton native's illustrative interpretation of SVSU art department on display at campus research showcase

Williamson, EmilyComic books have long been popular in the entertainment industry and are firmly entrenched in modern pop culture with on-screen adaptations of bookstore titles such as The Avengers, Batman, and The Walking Dead.

Saginaw Valley State University student Emely Williamson is working on a comic series of her own, starring her campus' art department. An art major and Burton native, Williamson's work is empowered by SVSU’s Undergraduate Research Program (UGRP). Through the initiative, she plans to publish a comic book revolving around life as a student in SVSU’s art programs.

Williamson is one of more than 100 students whose UGRP-supported projects will be featured during the University-Wide SVSU Student Showcase Friday, April 21, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. the Ott Auditorium inside SVSU's Gilbertson Hall. The event — free and open to the public — will spotlight projects from all five SVSU academic colleges.

When I first started looking at the UGRP application, I thought there would be no way the committee would see a molecular bonding project ... and then give money to a girl who wants to write a comic book,” Williamson said. "I’m very appreciative of the attention they gave my project and the opportunity they gave to me."

Her project is focused on examining the use of comics to convey information. Her comic illustrates how students should navigate their way through art classes and program requirements.

In order to better summarize the inner-workings of the art department, Williamson reached out to faculty to gather more everyday language to use in her work.

We’re trying to make it more enjoyable to learn more about this department,” she said. "We want to answer questions like, ‘What do you need to do to get through this program successfully,’ or, 'Which classes should you take first?'"

In need of a high-powered light box for tracing, ink pens and a digital drawing tablet, Williamson applied for and received a $1,200 grant through UGRP to cover her project expenses.

When I graduate, I really want to do illustrations for children’s books, so this sort of visual narrative is going to be a great portfolio piece and experience piece that I can apply to my field,” Williamson said.

Williamson also hopes one day to pursue work as a freelance illustrator professionally.

For more information regarding Williamson's project, visit  

For more information on SVSU's UGRP projects, visit