My Journey to JWU: Tyler Miles '28

Welcome to Tyler Miles, who will join us this fall to study graphic design. Here’s a bit of background about this SkillsUSA champ who won a scholarship to Johnson & Wales University.

What is your hometown?

Although born in Connecticut, I have experienced the latter half of my youth in Burrillville, a quiet town in the northwest corner of Rhode Island. Although off the beaten path for most, Burrillville has built a reputation for its beautiful nature scenes throughout our surprisingly expansive town.

How did you get interested in graphic design? Can you talk about something you’ve created, or a style you like to use?

Art, design and creativity have always played an integral part in my story; for as long as I can remember I have experimented with every medium of self-expression through art. My love for graphic design as I know it today truly stems from my love of music and how musicians collaborate with designers to create breathtaking visuals that tell moving stories of love, loss and everything in between.

It has been this bridge that drives me to expand my creative horizons every day, from working with a small indie artist to develop his first merch collection to shooting for the stars and creating concept designs for pop icons like Lady Gaga. I strive to explore every facet of myself and how that ultimately transcends into meaningful design.

How did you get involved in SkillsUSA? What was it like to compete against other students?

I have been involved in SkillsUSA since my freshmen year of high school. I truly owe my participation to my former advisor and mentor, JWU alumnus Brooke Gatchell ‘20. It was her enthusiasm for all this organization has to offer that inspired me to pursue higher leadership and help serve as an advocate for career and technical education.

a group photo of SkillsUSA members wearing red jackets and posing in front of the State House
Tyler Miles '28, front row center, says his SkillsUSA competition experience has been transformative.

Competing in SkillsUSA Rhode Island’s Advertising Design competition has been a transformative experience. Utilizing crucial design skills in real-world scenarios promotes creative problem-solving, as myself and peers designed advertisements for tangible clients. This unique experience yielded me the gold medal.

Last year you became national vice president for SkillsUSA. What has that leadership experience entailed?

Over the past year, I have been both privileged and honored to serve as the SkillsUSA national high school vice president. This once-in-a-lifetime experience has allowed me to travel across the country as I advocate for career and technical education and empower the next generation of skilled workers. From Rhode Island to Washington, D.C., to Houston, Texas, and back, I have worked to support and train SkillsUSA’s 400,000+ members, advocate for legislation on capitol hill and empower our up-and-coming workforce.

photo of Tyler Miles '28 posing smiling next to a young woman
Tyler's SkillsUSA leadership experience has entailed advocating for career and technical education and empowering the next generation of skilled workers.

I hope to continue my journey of advocacy and leadership as I help guide JWU’s own SkillsUSA chapter into a new era full of burgeoning opportunity and visibility.

What are some of your other hobbies?

I love art of all forms from design to photography. I strive to explore art forms in which I can express my perspective on the world in new and innovative ways.

Additionally, I love to attend concerts and live shows of all sorts. One of my favorite concerts I have had the privilege of attending was Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour; she is a perfect example of self-expression through both verbal and visual artistry that ignites ambition within my inner creative.

How did you hear about JWU’s National Student Organization scholarship application? What did it feel like to learn that you won?

I heard about the scholarship through my mentor, Brooke Gatchell. As a JWU alum herself, she was aware of JWU’s immense support and partnership with student organizations such as SkillsUSA.

Getting the call informing me that I had been awarded this full-tuition scholarship was surreal and a true honor. Receiving this scholarship will allow me the space to pursue meaningful and enriching creative experiences free of the burden of college tuition.

Tell us how you first heard of JWU. Why did you choose our Graphic Design program?

My mother is a JWU alum, but I was first introduced to Johnson & Wales in person through their partnership with SkillsUSA Rhode Island, as the organization hosts our annual Fall Leadership Conference on JWU’s Harborside campus. I chose JWU’s Graphic Design program with ease and pride.

photo of a young man concentrating while looking at a laptop
Tyler's experience designing for SkillsUSA competitions is excellent preparation for his next journey as a JWU Graphic Design major.

Attending a JWU Open House as a junior in high school, I was struck by JWU’s career-oriented curriculum and genuine staff members, which quickly made it stand out as a top contender in my college search.

What were your first impressions of JWU?

I was impressed with the school's diversity of studies and attention to detail in all its programs. From culinary to graphic design JWUs state-of-the-art facilities, caring faculty and unique presentation left an indelible impression after my first visit.

What are you most looking forward to experiencing at JWU?

I look forward to meeting new people from all over the world, expanding my creative and design expertise through hands-on experiences, and living out my college career in the beautiful city of Providence.

Do you have a dream job or goal in mind for after JWU?

As music has played such an integral role in my life, I aim to work with musical artists to aid in developing and actualizing their vision in a visual form factor. Graphic Designers at record labels like UMG, Columbia and beyond help shape how listeners and viewers visually digest a record through mediums like merchandise, album covers and music videos. As artists embark on tours, they express themselves and their music in a whole new way through live performance, and I dream of continuing to help them tell their stories through photography and design as they share their albums with fans all over the world.

Who has helped you in your college journey?

Although there are so many individuals who have supported me throughout my high school career and transition into post-secondary education, my mom has been a constant supporter, advocate and source of encouragement. She has always challenged me to empower my potential, celebrate my success and help me overcome seemingly impossible challenges. Her active role in my life has been instrumental in shaping the young man I am today.


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