Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Olivia Fitzgibbon was an active and engaged college student, living on campus and enjoying life in the Donaghey Scholars Honors Program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
“Being in the Donaghey Scholars was good,” Fitzgibbon said. “When I was on campus, being in such a close environment, you get to make friends and pick each other’s brains. I’ve been off campus since COVID. Dr. Hawkins and Dr. Scott supported me and have been rocks for a good many years. It’s been unconditional support when it matters.”
When COVID came on the scene, the Little Rock native found herself living at home, taking classes online, and no longer able to get out and see her friends. Like many, she explored new hobbies to fill up her free time.
A marketing major, Fitzgibbon had always been a creative person, enjoying photography, graphic design, and web design. She had always wanted to learn more about sewing, and she used her unexpected free time from the pandemic to do so.
“When the pandemic hit, I needed an outlet because I wasn’t on campus anymore like I was the first two years of college,” she said. “I’m really happy to see myself grow. I think I am better for it.”
Three years later, and the graduating senior has turned her love of sewing into a new career. She will be working as a fiber arts teacher at the newly reopened Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, teaching art enthusiasts the art of sewing and mending.
“I’ll also be teaching some classes on how to repurpose garments into other things,” Fitzgibbon said. “I’m excited about that class. I think it will be popular with younger people who are into repurposing clothes.”
She even combined her new love of sewing to complete her capstone project for the Donaghey Scholars Honors Program.
“The project was a mixture of history and sewing, an anthology of different historical textile pieces that was called ‘Unfettered Stitches,’” Fitzgibbon said. “It was nice to do something creative outside of my degree.”
Fitzgibbon will graduate this semester with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing. Along with her job at the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, she will also be looking for a job to put her marketing skills to use. She already works part time at Andrews Autosport since 2020, where she maintains the company’s website, created their logo, and helps with branding.
Fitzgibbon is especially grateful to Dr. Seunghyun Kim, assistant professor of marketing, who taught her graphic design and web design skills through the Adobe Creative Suite programs. She said that the skills she learned in Dr. Kim’s classes have been helpful in building her career, leading to many internships.
She’s worked as a communications intern at the Clinton Foundation, where she filmed weekly video segments from the children’s culinary camp, organized the Green Expo, wrote press releases, and helped plan the Ruth Bader Ginsburg lecture.
“Working at the Clinton Foundation was fun because there was always something going on,” Fitzgibbon said. “I’d run around and interview kids and make videos. Kids will say and do anything to get in front of the camera, so we were always laughing.”
She also worked as a public relations intern at the Sells Agency, an intern at BSR REIT, and as a web developer intern at Doughnate House.
“I did internships for several summers, and I’m glad I did them,” she said. “I think the experiences and the chance to try something new is invaluable for my career.”