About Leah Barna

Check out Leah Barna’s website (leahvon.com) and you’re likely to be surprised that she’s a 2018 Sage graduate. Because, in just three years, Leah has already worked for one of Albany’s major design firms and gone on to create her own graphic design business with a solid portfolio of work in design, photography and motion graphics.

She says the role models she had at Sage had a lot to do with this fast track she’s on. She remembers Professor Matt McElligott showing her the proofs of one of his many children’s books, created while he was carrying a full teaching schedule. And there was also Professor Sean Hovendick, who along with teaching seemed always to be working on freelance graphic design projects.

“That really set the bar high for me,” Leah says.

The Graphic + Media Design department at Sage, according to Leah, is just the kind of learning environment she needed to thrive.

“I came from a small town with a small high school,” she says. “I didn’t want to be some no-name student. I craved interaction. And I was given more of that than I even dreamed. Personally, I learn best through questions and answers and that’s exactly what I got.”

Here, Leah remembers conversations with Professor Leah Rico.

“She made me feel as though no questions were unwarranted, and the one-to-one mentoring she provided is what stands out the strongest in my mind now, and has helped me to navigate the real world, post-graduation. When I feel stuck I don’t think about the words I read in the textbooks, I remember the conversations I had with professors like Leah and Sean.”

Leah transferred to Sage from Hudson Valley Community College.

“When I got to Sage I felt like I was being taught a new way to think about what I was doing,” she says. “It became about problem solving. And I also got the opportunity to work with real clients through my internship opportunity.”

During her senior year at Sage, Leah was named a “Student to Watch” by Graphic Design USA magazine, a nationally recognized trade publication with more than 50,000 graphic design and creative professional subscribers.

She’s more than met the promise the magazine predicted for her.

“When I feel stuck I don't think about the words I read in the textbooks, I remember the conversations I had with professors.”

Leah Barna