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Elevating Change - My journey with Elevita

Megan Earley


From a young age, when anyone asked where I hoped to go to college in the future, I always answered confidently: “Purdue.” Raised as a Boilermaker from birth, I had never wavered on this decision – until my senior year of high school when I began questioning if I wanted to stay in Indiana. I’d lived in the same small town my entire life, making me wonder if I should branch out for college. I had a growing fear that I would get “stuck” in Indiana and never have the opportunity to see the world. As my mind filled with these doubts and fears, I reflected on my passions and values to inform my decision.

I had developed a passion for graphic design and photography after taking my first introductory graphic design class in 8th grade. I cultivated these skills with the help of supportive teachers and family; my grandma gifted me an old point-and-shoot camera to practice photography, and my graphic design teacher, Mrs. Kramer, encouraged me to continue growing my skills in graphic design. When my dad saw my passion for photography growing, he helped me get my first professional camera. Shortly after, I launched my own photography and design business, taking senior and family photos and designing logos for local businesses. My accomplishments led me to New York City to attend the National Scholastics Art and Writing Ceremony in Carnegie Hall after earning a National Gold Key for one of my graphic design works.

 After evaluating my creativity, entrepreneurial instincts and love of innovation, I realized I could continue to grow my skills into a sustainable career at the Daniels School of Business. Even if I didn’t start exploring the world right out of high school, Purdue would provide a greater opportunity for adventure as my abilities and interests grew.

When I arrived on campus, I was eager to take the next step toward my future, but I was worried I might lose touch with my creativity and passion for design as I focused on a degree in general management with a concentration in marketing. However, after taking my first introductory marketing class, I quickly realized that marketing was the perfect way to channel my creativity into business strategy. Not only could I use graphic design to develop marketing communications, but the creativity I had fostered throughout high school proved extremely helpful for problem-solving and campaign strategy. When I took my upper-level International Marketing class sophomore year, I felt more confident than ever in my decision to come to Purdue.

The class presented me with an opportunity to work with an international humanitarian organization. My instructor, Professor Chad Allred, had a contagious desire to use marketing to help others around the world. He emphasized that the class isn’t about getting a good grade but taking this opportunity to form real relationships and make the world a better place. Professor Allred’s excitement inspired me to put my all into the project.  While I’ve always had a strong desire to achieve and be successful, I have always sought greater fulfillment in my work. This class gave me a unique opportunity to be tied to something greater, to empower others and to contribute to positive change!

An example of product photography and brand design I did for Elevita’s website.

My class jumped on the opportunity. Our team was given several partnership options, and I was particularly drawn to the 100% volunteer nonprofit Elevita. Their mission to improve the lives of artisans in developing countries by offering a larger world market for their handcrafted goods resonated with me. They, too, had entrepreneurial spirits and talents, just like the students at the Daniels School of Business, but unlike us, they didn’t have the resources or opportunities to become successful on their own. When my team had the first client meeting with Kirsten, Elevita’s founder, we immediately clicked. Her zeal and vision for Elevita inspired me to take the project and run with it.

My team and I focused on building Elevita’s social media presence and brand awareness by developing various reports and content. In my role, I led our team to develop strategic marketing campaigns that directly connected to Elevita’s goals. I felt so fulfilled by the impact we were making. Even with that fulfillment, I couldn’t share the feeling that I could be doing more. During marketing analysis, I noticed Elevita’s visual appeal could be improved with higher-quality product photos and an updated website. I knew I had the perfect combination of skills to help. I asked Kirsten if she would be willing to send me a small inventory of products so I could take new photos for the website and social media, and she agreed!

As the semester ended and we wrapped up our final deliverables, I once again couldn’t shake the feeling that I could do more. I went to Kirsten again to see if I could stay with Elevita as a summer intern to finish the entire inventory of product photography and help transition their website onto a more user-friendly platform. Kirsten enthusiastically welcomed me to the team. Throughout the summer, I led Elevita through monumental changes. Kirsten trusted me to rebrand Elevita with a new logo and slogan, which was essential in improving the visual appeal to the standard I hoped to achieve. I then worked through the entire inventory of Elevita products to update their product photography and completely redesigned the website.

During my summer internship with Elevita, I traveled to New Jersey to work in person with Kirsten. I’ll never forget when I arrived in Newark and walked out to the pickup area, where Kirsten was waiting. We shared a big hug and were so excited to meet in person finally. During the week, I was able to see behind the scenes of Elevita’s operations and witness Kirsten’s commitment to Elevita’s artisans. As we worked on finalizing product photography, I could hear the story behind every product and what made the artisans so remarkable. I could feel my affection for Elevita growing even stronger.


One of the best parts of working for Elevita was developing a close friendship with Kirsten. We had unique adventures in New York, like watching a Broadway musical!

Knowing my love for art and New York City, Kirsten graciously took me into the city to explore after our work was done. We spent hours walking around to see all the sites I had missed during my first trip, including a visit to the Guggenheim Museum and Top of the Rock. Being back in NYC felt like a full circle moment and the greatest affirmation that I was on the right path. My love for graphic design and photography once again led me to the city I love.

Working on such a big project always has ups and downs. One of my greatest challenges was realizing the importance of staying true to Elevita’s mission while proposing so many changes. It was like balancing on a tightrope, trying to give Elevita a bold, unified look through innovative changes while maintaining the elements that spoke to the mission and brand, spotlighting the talented artisans behind it all. But thanks to the lessons I learned from Professor Allred and guidance from Kirsten, I ensured Elevita’s branding gave these artisans the recognition they deserved, putting them front and center in everything we did.


A beautiful picture I snagged while in New York City – the place where I started my marketing journey!

My time with Elevita solidified my desire to pursue a career in marketing and has grown my heart for the nonprofit space. I’m confident I will never lose touch with my creativity and can’t wait to utilize it in my future career. I know how fulfilling it can be to use your abilities for good, and I don’t want to sacrifice that. I want to make a mark on the world, not just increase the bottom line.

To current and future Purdue students, if you’re considering taking a class with a corporate client like I did, say YES! It’s an incredible way to connect with people, serve your community and grow your portfolio. Purdue presents you with so many great opportunities, but it’s up to you to turn them into something more than a grade on your transcript. Take the opportunity to connect your passions to your work and actively seek fulfillment in all that you do.

Megan Earley Headshot

Megan Earley is a senior from Greencastle, Indiana, studying Marketing with a concentration in Innovation Management. As a student, Megan is involved as a marketing research assistant for the Daniels School of Business, a part-time marketing specialist for Elevita, and an office associate for the Daniels School of Business graduate programs. Megan is also involved on campus with Purdue Women in Business as the Graphic Design Director. Outside of her on-campus involvements, Megan runs her own freelance photography and design business.

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