Radford student, alumni collaborate to bring web design services to the local community


Ashley Bush '10 and Matt Reppert

For Matt Reppert, a Radford University graduate student, web design has gone from a casual interest to a potential career path.

The second year corporate and professional communication student recently completed a pro bono web design project for Scarrette's Plaza Cinemas, a small business serving the greater Radford area.

"I had seen their website. It needed some work," said Reppert, whose interest in web design really took off after taking an Interactive Media course as a graduate elective. "I thought I would offer my services and maybe be a benefit to them."

Reppert contacted theater owner Dave Scarrette, who had built the original website himself around 10 years ago.

"It didn't present us well, or at least not the way I'd have liked it to, so when Matt came over we talked about it and decided to work together," Scarrette said.

Reppert introduced Scarrette to Squarespace, an online website builder. Reppert was able to use the platform to design a modern site for the theater. Because of its user-friendly nature, he was also able to train Scarrette to maintain it into the future.

"It's great now. It's exactly what I wanted and people are definitely commenting on it," Scarrette said.

Reppert also holds his B.S. in communication from RU. When he volunteered to provide this community service he brought some fellow Highlanders along.

BFA graduate Ashley Bush '10 and David Phipps '11, now a graduate English student, joined Reppert in the project by providing a new logo and photography, respectively.

Bush, who is Reppert's sister, jumped at the chance to put her design and lettering skills to work for a local business like Scarrette's and bolster the relationship between campus and community.

"My brother and I recognized a common problem in small town communities - they struggle with staying up to date with current technologies and therefore have a whole customer audience they aren't reaching," Bush said. "Students provide a large amount of business for our community. If there was more collaboration between the local community and the students then amazing things would happen."

One of those amazing things is the creation of the pair's own new venture: nineteen54. The boutique web design firm, based in Radford, will offer affordable services to local non-profits and local businesses.

"I never thought I could do this," said Reppert, who will graduate in May. "After taking a single class here in the graduate program - interactive media - I learned there were easy and affordable ways to build a website. It is exciting to me."

As Matt Reppert transitions from graduate school student to small business owner, he will have the tools to make his mark on the community. The reason is Radford.

Mar 17, 2015