Where can you merge three interests into a degree? At EICC.  

Gunter Schlueter found more than a path to a degree at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC), he found so many opportunities to excel. 

Schlueter graduated with an AAS in Graphic Arts Technology during the May 2023 commencement ceremony at Clinton Community College (CCC). “To finally make to here it is pretty exciting,” he said.  

“This degree means I can really go after any jobs that I want,” Schlueter said. “This (education) was the thing I was missing when I was trying to move forward. Now I am excited about the future.” 

Schlueter had enrolled in college twice before. The first time he attended his parents' alma mater. It wasn’t a good fit. The second he attended to earn a small business certificate. At the time, he owned and was running a dance studio while also serving as a dance instructor. The pandemic hit, the studio closed, and his plans were curtailed.  

“During the pandemic, I spent my time on a slippery slope of negative emotions and depression. Art was sort of my self-treatment back into positivity,” Schlueter said.  

He began painting miniature figurines for his Dungeons and Dragons gaming group. He also created a YouTube channel to document his personal journey. He enjoyed the creativity and video editing, as well as the marketing he did for the dance studio. “I asked myself, ‘How can I make these things into a degree?’” Schlueter said.  

EICC presented him with a path. He enrolled in the fully online program and soon realized it was a turning point. 

“There were a lot of intense, positive moments from the beginning, because I had spent a lot of time questioning and tearing myself down and being caught in my own little echo chamber,” Schlueter said. But as he started getting his assignments back, he realized he was hitting the mark. “I was giving the instructors what they were looking for and what they wanted to see. They liked the work I was producing and that really, really helped my confidence.”  

There were still times he questioned himself, but the Graphic Arts Technology program advisor Mat Endress encouraged him to keep going. “He’d tell me, ‘Stick with it. You can do this. It’s a good fit,’” Schlueter said. 

The fully online education was also a good fit for him and his seven-year-old son. “There really was no juggling,” he said about his two big roles at the time: parent and student. “We just sat down and did our homework together at the same time. He would color and I would color. And since I was doing graphic art, he did his own version of all different kinds of stuff. And he loved trying out the little stencil, the stylist for drawing, and things on the computer,” Schlueter said.  

In his time at EICC, he maintained a 4.0 GPA; joined Phi Theta Kappa, the International Honor Society for two-year colleges; did some graphic design for the four-mile race B-rrry Scurry and for a CCC campus van; and was active in the Gaming Guild.

Now Schlueter can’t wait to take his resume into the world and launch his career. 

“For probably the first time in my adult life, I am excited to go out and apply for jobs. I love making things look a certain way, so marketing would be a good fit. And I would love to do cover art for something nerdy, or work for conventions or expos. Really, if I’m doing anything tied to graphic arts, I am going to be happy working in any capacity,” he said.