Real Life Power Couple
July 22, 2021
by Ashton Marcoux (‘22)
Dannielle Moriondo (’16, MSC ’21) was thrilled when her spouse, Penn State Alum Kevin Bryant, invited her to collaborate with him in the Graphics Data Visualization Team Competition sponsored by the National Institute of Statistical Sciences. This competition challenges entrants to bring data to life for a wide audience using “interactivity and clever graphics” to capture attention while expanding insights covering data about education. She was excited by the idea of a new educational experience but even more so to be able to have the unique opportunity to work alongside her partner. “I love education first and foremost,” she says, “and with his background in statistics and my background in communication, we ended up blending our skills together.”
The pair worked together to design a graphic that visually represents projections of employment rates and earnings for six categories of education: High school equivalent or less, some college, associate’s degree, BA or BS, more than BA or BS, and don’t know. The graphic was based on the 2021 NCES online report, “Education, Employment, and Earnings: Expectations of 2009 Ninth Graders in 2016.”
“Contestants were given a choice of three data sets to work with,” Dannielle explains, “Our goal was to tell a story. After looking at all three, we both gravitated toward a data set that could be shaped into a useful tool for high school and college counselors.”
Kevin and Dannielle worked on their graphic over the 2020 holiday break, splitting their time between preparing for the holidays and creating their entry. “I was making Christmas cookies, decorating for the holidays, and working on this project,” Dannielle says. The hard work paid off. In the spring of this year, Dannielle and Kevin found out they won the competition, earning a $1,500 award. Half of the earnings was applied toward Dannielle’s tuition for the Master of Strategic Communication program.
Dannielle says that the most exciting thing about the experience—aside from working with her partner—was getting real-world application of her education in an unexpected interdisciplinary light. She graduated from Westminster with a BA in communication in 2016 and recently completed her master of strategic communication. Kevin brings an entirely different educational background to the table, having been in STEM his whole career. While the two degrees seem vastly different, it was this wide stretch of knowledge shared between the two that helped them win the competition. Dannielle was able to apply her communication expertise in a STEM-leaning competition by taking the lead on the design aspect of the graphic—a critical component of the competition. “I do not consider myself a designer. I never have to be honest,” she says, “But there’s an entire semester in the MSC program dedicated to design, where you get to learn various techniques and tools to help build those skills. Anyone, even if you don’t consider yourself a designer, can then take those tools and skills and apply them to other areas.”