Quinnipiac University

Alumna helped communicate life-saving information during Oregon wildfire season

October 15, 2021

Headshot of Shelley Crick

Shelley Crick works for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) in a role that has expanded so much so that she has outgrown the antiquated title of electronic desktop publisher.

She is the go-to visual communicator for an agency of more than 4,700 people, with a statewide audience. Piece by piece, she is bringing ODOT up-to-date with current and fresh collateral in the form of maps, billboards, annual reports, manuals for the DMV and even road signs.

Her passion and talent are the driving force behind her work as well as the desire to be a lifelong learner which led her to Quinnipiac’s MS in Interactive Media and Communications program.

She was happy to learn it was an online program since she lives on the Pacific Coastline, clear across the country. Even though she is settled in Oregon, she lived in Connecticut as a child while her father was in the U.S. Navy. Crick was a happy coincidence for her and allowed her to bond with the university quickly. With a supportive husband and supervisor, she accepted admittance into her graduate program.

When she began her master’s program, to say her plate was full is an understatement.

While working on her degree, she participated in an immersive leadership program with ODOT that made her look at her purpose and values. Then in January 2020, she was diagnosed with an invasive, stage 3 form of breast cancer.

She underwent a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation all while the global pandemic was happening.

Crick said that with her husband’s unconditional support and quarantine giving her the opportunity to work from home, she was able to manage her time and recovery “purposefully and intentionally making room for me every day.”

Looking back, Crick admits that it wasn’t easy, however, with her incredibly positive outlook, she saw beyond what was in front of her and reached out for the possibility that lay ahead of her.

“It’s a commitment to yourself and your personal development. Your future self will thank you for the work you put in now,” she said.

During her courses, Crick began to apply what she learned to her daily work.

As part of her master’s program, she developed her online design portfolio and website, Shelly Crick. This got attention from others outside her department, and she was called on by the Office of Emergency Management for expertise in social media communication during wildfire season.

Crick has transformed her role at ODOT from updating a few words here and there to working beside bridge and civil engineers, safety administrators, and project managers to provide visual communications for community education, outreach and technical presentations to stakeholders. For example, Crick redesigned the state map that travelers pick up at the Oregon Visitors Center.

She was tasked by a civil engineer to create a visual of how a new snow fence will change the site lines of a highway. Crick is an indispensable part of the team. Mutual respect and professionalism abound among her and her coworkers.

To say someone is lucky to do what they love may be true, but in this case, Crick was very purposeful in her actions. Her education supported her passion, and she carefully chose each step of her career to ensure a fulfilling life.

Crick said that she is living a graphic designers dream “because the work I’m doing is not only seen but makes a difference in people’s lives. I see it on billboards and in stores. It’s in people’s wallets and in their mailboxes. I help people and I am proud of that.”

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