Past Winners

President Lisa C. Freeman invites NIU students to submit original artwork for the official university holiday card. Of the entries submitted for consideration, three are selected and the artists received scholarships for their winning designs.

2022 Entries

Holiday’s Helpful Hands

Marlen Hueramo is a freshman art education major from Rochelle, IL.

“I was inspired by the diversity of students and faculty who have made this holiday season beautiful. They're always lending a helping hand. They constantly show support, so I showcased the beauty of love and unity that's the backbone of our NIU Community,” said Hueramo.

Marlen aspires to be a art professor. "The second I stepped onto campus I found myself in awe at watching my instructors create such a welcoming and creatively diverse environment. I can only hope to become just as amazing and inspiring as they have been for me," said Hueramo.

(First place)

Diverse and Inclusive NIU

Johnson Kwame Wor is a Ph.D. art and design student from Ghana.

Wor said this design was motivated by the “fact that NIU has a high pedigree in sports and academics and also that NIU is a university that upholds diversity, equity and diversity.
These are necessary ingredients for peaceful and joyful season such as this.”

Johnson Kwame hopes to impact the next generation of designers and scholars in the field of art and design with rich knowledge and experience in artistic expression and education.

(Second place)

Our Cheery Altgeld

Abigail Nixon is a senior nursing major from Edmond, OK.

 “I chose to use one of the most iconic landmarks at NIU and combined that with all the holiday spirit, but in a minimalistic way,” stated Nixon.

After graduation, Abigail plans to become an Intensive Care Nurse, and eventually get her DNP to teach for higher education.

(Third place)

2021 Entries

NIU Community

Caitlin Alejandre is a senior illustration major from Marengo, IL.

"I love creating playful imagery and incorporating strange, delightful details. I wanted to include imagery from different cultures to show the diversity and community at NIU while also celebrating the holiday season that brings people together," said Alejandre.

Caitlin would like to be a freelance Illustrator and do many things such as illustrating children's books, designing posters, selling prints of art, and much more.

(First place)

Snowman Festivities

Annelise Darville is a sophomore painting major from Spring Grove, IL.

"I was inspired by the friendly community of students at NIU, and wanted to capture the presence of this community through a holiday activity," said Darville.

Annelise would love to become a professional artist in any capacity, whether it is through freelance or commercial work.

(Second place)

NIU Winter Community

Sadey Havel is a freshman BFA Studio Art and Design major (and will major in painting, drawing or illustration) from Appleton, WI.

"I love the architecture at NIU, especially Altgeld Hall. I also appreciate the sense of community on campus. To link this community to the holidays, I included students engaging in a friendly snowball fight. Mission, of course, is also participating," stated Havel.

After graduation, Sadey plans to attend graduate school. Beyond that, she hopes to consider positions in art museums, graphic design, and even illustration, and looks forward to where her path at NIU takes her.

(Third place)

2019 Entries

Ringing in the New Year
(125th anniversary)

Jenna Cavin is a senior illustration major from Aurora, Ill.

"With NIU's 125th Anniversary just around the corner, I thought immediately of the old saying "Ringing in the New Year". I wanted to celebrate this year's Huskie pride with our two new additions: Mission II and the NIU sculpture in the MLK commons." said Cavin.

After graduation, she plans on utilizing her illustration and marketing skills within the nonprofit sector.

(First place)

The Huskie Spirit

Todd Weber is a graduate student from Union, Ill.

"I love dogs and paint a lot of pet portraits so I knew I wanted to incorporate a festive "Huskie" to represent NIU. I wanted to show a sense of unity and diversity with different symbols representing some of the many holiday traditions that are celebrated." said Weber.

He received his bachelor's degree from NIU back in 2009 and decided to come back in hopes of getting his teaching license to pursue a future career as an elementary art teacher.

(Second place)

Happy Holidays from NIU!

Sarah Navigato is a senior illustration major from Mount Prospect, Ill.

"I am proud to be a part of a school that is so inclusive and values diversity as much as NIU does. For my piece, I wanted to draw some of our campus geese with our school mascots Mission and Mission II to emphasize how warm and welcoming NIU is." said Navigato.

Her ultimate dream is to be a self sufficient children’s book author and illustrator. She enjoys incorporating animals in her illustrations and creating stories with them is something she loves doing.

(Third place)

2018 Entries

Warm NIU Wishes

Amber Naskrent is a junior visual communications major from Belvidere, Ill.

"For my submission, I wanted to create a bright and festive image in a simple and clean way utilizing the techniques I've learned as a designer," said Naskrent.

She hopes to combine her passion for graphic design with her love of Japanese culture by working as a designer for an international company in Chicago.

"I'm excited to see where the skills I've learned at NIU will lead me," she said. (First place)

A Romp in the Snow with Some Geese

Oona Holtane is a junior illustration major from Sycamore, Ill.

Holtane's holiday card artwork features a digitally-created collage illustration. "[This is] what I imagine goes on during winter break on campus," she said.

Her career goals include directing an animated film, writing and illustrating her own book and growing her business.

"I want to inspire as many people as possible and help others find the silver lining to life's negative events," said Holtane. (Second place)

Skating on the Lagoon

Natalie Pivoney is a graduate student pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in painting from Des Plaines, Ill.

Pivoney's work features an image of an oil painting with ice skaters on the East Lagoon and NIU's Altgeld Hall in the background.

"NIU is not just a school, it's a place where fond memories are created. I enjoyed painting in red details throughout the piece and reflecting the sky in the iced lagoon," she said.

Pivoney plans to pursue her art practice full-time while teaching studio art at the college level. (Third place)

2017 Entries

Huskie Holidays

Michelle Corkery is a senior visual communications major from Geneva, Ill.

She hopes to start off working in-house at a company as a graphic designer. Over the years through experience and networking, she hope to travel and explore different styles and types of both art and design around the world.

"My piece was inspired by my passion for digital mediums," said Corkery. "I have always enjoyed creating my own graphics in illustrator to use for my designs. I am glad I had the chance to combine both art and design into this card." (First Place)

Huskie Holiday Preparation

Lynn Corr is a jewelry design/design fabrication major from Sycamore, Ill. Corr would like to open a co-op studio for various artists and mediums, such as metals, ceramics, sculpture and more. She would also like to design and sell high-end art dolls and figures.

"One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is the decoration and the overall excitement that most people get for the season," said Corr of her inspiration for her artwork. "It's a time for everyone to get together." (Second Place)

NIU Sled Time

Kimberly Ezzo is a junior psychology major from Plainfield, Ill. She wants to become a clinical psychologist and help people live with mental disorders.

I love being a Huskie and going to NIU, said Ezzo of her artwork, titled "NIU Sled Time." "Winter is the best time of the year, and huskies are my favorite dog!" (Third Place)

2016 Entries

Festive Little Huskie

Freshman fine arts major from Sycamore, Illinois, Oona Holtane, created her design digitally. "I remember how calming the campus can be while it’s snowing, especially around Altgeld Hall. I also wanted to incorporate a festive little huskie who, as our mascot, can make anyone smile." In addition to painting, Oona plans to include many aspects of art in her career such as animation, design and writing. (1st place)

Huskie Holiday

Junior media studies and marketing major, Cameron Kirk, created his design digitally using Photoshop. Cameron is a Glenbard North High School graduate from Carol Stream, Illinois, who would like to be a filmmaker or storyteller. He hopes to work for a production company in a development or creative executive role to utilize his art direction, design and writing interests. The 2016 political division inspired Cameron's design. He conceptualized a snow globe to express that NIU faculty and students are all under one roof. (2nd place)

A Bright Future

Previous contest winner, Leyla Puskar, an art and design major, set to graduate in spring 2016. "My goals are to keep active in the art community, continue to make my art, try new things and push boundaries. The key is to keep learning, exploring and rising up to challenges." Her digital design, which also uses colored pencil, depicts a huskie dog looking up at NIU stockings. The stockings represent a bright future, which would not be possible without the presence of the parent dogs and NIU. (3rd place)

2015 Entries

The Gift of NIU

Junior art and design education major from Sycamore, Illinois, Leyla Nora Puskar, hand painted her design in acrylic paint and edited it with PicsArt digital media. Leyla wanted to keep her design simple and playful to excite the childlike charm and memories of the holidays. After graduating from NIU, Leyla will focus on her hand crafted longboard business and on her art.  "Art has always been part of my life. I pursue it each day with prowess and vigor. It is my vocation, my devotional practice and lifelong commitment." (1st place)

Snow Day Snowball Fight

Senior photography major and Marian Catholic High graduate from Frankfort, Illinois, Amy Fleming, wanted to capture students coming together and doing something fun on a snow day when campus had closed. (2nd place)

Mush to Greatness

Junior communications media studies major, Shannon Rae Jordan, created her design digitally. Shannon is a Morton West High School graduate from Stickney, Illinois, who wishes to pursue illustration, screen writing and web design. Her art combines the theme of the working sled dog with NIU students working toward greatness. "Tutors, T.A.s, and even many professors at NIU are alumni of the university and it really shows the ambition there is to lead the next generation to graduation." (3rd place)

Contact Dr. Freeman

Office of the President
Altgeld Hall 300
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