GCC Student Wins Cougar Facelift Competition

Design Reflects Victorious, Yet Loveable Character

Batavia, NY- When Sarah Hulburt-Emerson started drawing as a young girl, animals were her first subjects. “I was lucky, because my parents let me have hamsters, cats, guinea pigsand eventually a dog,” she said. Now the owner of two dogs and two cats, her fluffy feline Logan inspired her as she created a new G-Dubb, the GCC Cougar mascot. Hulburt-Emerson, of Batavia, is “elated” that her drawing won the grand prize in the GCC Cougar Facelift Competition, sponsored by the College’s Marketing Communications and Admissions/Enrollment Management/Recruitment Departments. Her design will be used in athletics and other college marketing materials, she receives a $200 cash prize, and has an opportunity to further develop complete mascot schematics. “That’s super awesome,” she said. “Because it’s like your baby, you get attached and it’s exciting to potentially be able to move with it as it grows.”

Hulburt-Emerson, 25, plans to graduate this summer from GCC’s Digital Arts program. A 2006 graduate of Batavia High School, she had started classes at GCC following high school, but took a break before coming back in fall 2013 to finish her degree. She was inspired to return to school after seeing the film “The Avengers.” “I love superheroes, I love comic books. The effects [in the film] were amazing. It was really well made and it looked great. I made a promise to myself that I would get back and finish my degree and those are the promises you have to keep, the ones to yourself.”

That decision has turned out to be one of the best she’s ever made. “[Fall 2013] was like my golden semester. I made the President’s List and now this.” The Cougar design competition was also a class assignment, for which she received her best grade ever. “When I first started it, [instructor] Pam Swarts used me as an example for class.” She started with a design she admits was “too cute.” “He looked too much like a baby,” she said. “Then I made him a little tougher before I submitted it. I got these angry looking teeth out. He doesn’t look like he’s going to massacre a city, but he looks like ‘Hey, let’s go. I’ll beat ya’.’”

The design fit what the College was looking for. “We wanted a victorious looking Cougar that wouldn’t be too frightening,” said Christie Shirk, Communications and Recruitment specialist. “Sarah”s design had the perfect combination of cuteness and toughness.”

Sarah’s family is excited for her success. “My mother told me ‘Oh, I knew you were going to win.’ And my dad was really excited. He said ‘Look, you went back to school and all these great things have happened.’ They’re all pretty proud of me for coming back. It’s good to go back to school.”

Sarah created her design using a Wacom electronic drawing tablet, something she began using while a student at Batavia High School. “All my art teachers were really amazing. In high school, Mrs. Chadwell and Mrs. Antonucci were very supportive. And Pam [Swarts] has definitely helped with understanding digital media more. I came here and learned how you actually use Photoshop correctly.”

Sarah plans to use what she’s learned to build a career as an illustrator. “Honestly, I’d love to write and illustrate my own children’s books, graphic novels or illustrate for other people who’ve written things,” she said. Until then she continues to manage the trainers at the Batavia McDonald’s where she‘s worked for eight years. “They’re like my family. I love it there.” But she knows this victory is important as she looks to the future. “It’s going to be a really nice thing to have in my portfolio, one of the bigger accomplishments.” She also shares wisdom from her experiences. “When my younger friends say they’re going to take a break from school, I tell them a break can be good if you need it, but there’s a good chance you won’t go back. Getting started going back was hard.”

For more information, contact Marketing Communications Associate Director Donna Rae Sutherland at (585) 343-0055 ext. 6616, or via email: dsutherland@genesee.edu.

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Editor’s Note:
A photo of Sarah Hulburt-Emerson with her winning design is available here:

(Left to Right): GCC Director of Athletics, Kristen Schuth; Cougar Facelift Competition Winner, Sarah Hulburt-Emerson and GCC Communications and Recruitment Specialist, Christie Shirk