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Third Time’s the Charm for Michael Graves College Graduating Senior

Michael DiTomasso, Class of 2020, Kean University

Michael DiTomasso’s educational journey at Kean proves there are different paths to success.

The Robert Busch School of Design graphic design student is graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Advertising after dropping out of Kean twice before. He also is already working in his field — as an art director at Looney Advertising, a job he was offered after an internship at the Montclair agency last fall.

“It's indescribable. I feel metaphorically like one of those crazy ER stories you see on TV where a patient arrives with no pulse and is pronounced dead, only to unexplainably reawaken 20 minutes later and be totally fine,” DiTomasso said.

DiTomasso, from Woodbridge, said he first enrolled at Kean in 2009, receiving a full scholarship based on his high school portfolio. But he admits he did not take his education seriously and dropped out in 2010.

Next, he enrolled at Middlesex County College and received his associate’s degree. He was back at Kean in 2013, but personal problems derailed his educational dream. DiTomasso returned to Kean in 2018, and kept his focus on his educational and career goals.

“Now that I had a chance to take my education seriously, being with the talented students in Michael Graves College is one of the best things I've ever done. My professors are irreplaceable, and I truly owe them for the skills I know today. And the students are rapidly becoming the best in the country,” he said.

DiTomasso called his internship at Looney Advertising “mind-blowing.” 

“On the first day of my job, I was on a commercial shoot for a Mercedes dealership,” he said. “It had actors, staging, dialogue, scene shots — true creative stuff.”

He said his bosses liked his attitude and personality, and offered him a job as art director. In that role, he takes concepts and ideas from creative directors and makes them a reality using different design programs.

“From his first advertising idea and solution in my class, Michael's talent and keen intelligence were apparent,” said Distinguished Professor Robin Landa, who teaches advertising and graphic design at Michael Graves College. “Michael welcomed my feedback, and he worked to create an outstanding body of work that landed him an internship, which turned into a full-time art director position at a prestigious ad agency.”

As the Class of 2020 graduates into a struggling economy and uncertain times, DiTomasso looks to his experience to offer hope and encouragement.

“Right now, it seems like there isn't a single good outcome. But that's also how I felt about my own life during most of the last decade, so I think a good outcome from these times is not only likely, but probable,” he said.

“For anyone struggling to get a degree or with anything else that troubles them, I'd say if you're upset, or you feel like you're in a box right now, relax and wait until tomorrow,” DiTomasso added. “Eventually tomorrow comes, and you'll wonder why you were even stressed in the first place.”