Standing at the podium in the Owings Mills gymnasium, looking out upon a sea of eager Mustangs, Bryna Colley (visual communication design '06) addressed the Class of 2021. "I know exactly what it's like to sit where you're sitting," Colley said. And she does.
Colley was selected as the 2017 keynote speaker at Convocation, a traditional ceremony held each August to welcome freshman and new students to the Stevenson family. Her comments included three pieces of advice that were a culmination of tips and tricks learned throughout her student experience and beyond. First, "You're doing this for you!" she saidd. "See when someone sets the bar for you, you're only going to jump as high as that bar. But when someone challenges you to jump as high as possible, the sky's the limit." Colley urged new members of the Stevenson community to challenge themselves by getting involved, setting goals, and going beyond what is expected.
While a student at Stevenson, she was at the top of her class and stood out as a highly creative and involved student. After graduation, Colley went to work for a highly regarded design and marketing agency in Baltimore, BCG (B. Creative Group), where she landed several national accounts and was highly sought-after by clients for her creative competence and attention to detail.
Several years later, Colley, along with her creative partner, BCG employee and SU alumna Rebecca Smith Biello ‘06, ventured out on their own to form 2Fold Collective. Taking this leap wasn't something they did lightly. Her second piece of advice? "Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. At the end of the day, I know that my proudest moments have stemmed from the things that I've felt the most uncomfortable doing."
Over time, Colley and Biello launched a second enterprise with a web-development partner company, Foxtrot Media, to form their most recent brand Foundry 19, located in Owings Mills across from Foundry Row. All the while, Colley has continued to give back to her alma mater, serving as a guest speaker to students and as a member of the School of Design Advisory Board, annually reviewing student portfolios.
Her closing advice was simple. "Meet people, meet people, meet people." Colley admitted that she was naïve during her time as a student, expecting that working hard in class meant she'd land a job after graduation. She stressed, "It's not only about what you know, it's about who you know."
2Fold hires numerous graduates as interns and employees; today, the Foundry19 team of nine employees consists of four Stevenson graduates. Colley's Stevenson connections helped her reach the success she's achieved today and as a result she looks to provide opportunities to fellow Mustangs.
She ended her speech with the million dollar question—and answer. "Will Stevenson get you there? I can't promise you that. What I can promise it that Stevenson University is holding the door open for you."