Florida A&M University becomes the second historically Black university to become an Adobe Creative Campus

Image of students at Florida A&M University

Florida A&M University (FAMU) is the #1 public Historically Black University (HBCU) in the United States. Since its founding in 1887, FAMU has distinguished itself from other universities through a legacy of delivering high-quality, affordable education that helps students achieve their dreams.

FAMU has now set itself even further apart from other universities by becoming the second HBCU, and second public university in Florida, to be named an Adobe Creative Campus. FAMU provides its students and faculty equal access to Adobe Creative Cloud apps, demonstrating a commitment to helping them develop their digital literacy skills inside and outside of the classroom.

In this article

  • Leaning into innovation
  • Transforming teaching and learning
  • Giving students a leg up
  • Reaching the next generation

Leaning into innovation

“As innovation is one of our core values, we want to give students and faculty the latest tools to compete in the global marketplace,” says Lewis Johnson, PhD., associate provost for Student Success and Strategic Initiatives at FAMU. “When it comes to innovation and creative expression, Adobe solutions are must haves. Adobe helps our students improve their digital literacy skills and transform from content consumers into creators.”

An Adobe Creative Campus offers Adobe Creative Cloud software to students and transforms the curriculum to teach creative and persuasive communication skills across disciplines. There are 62 such institutions worldwide, including 4 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Creative skills and digital literacy deliver measurable impacts on student outcomes. According to research from Adobe, LinkedIn, and Civitas Research, incorporating creative tools in the classroom lead to better academic outcomes, and have an especially strong impact on Black and African American students.

“When we think about getting students career ready, we want to expose them to technology that allows them to create and communicate,” says Jennifer Collins, Ph.D., assistant provost of freshmen studies and professor of management at FAMU. “As an Adobe Creative Campus, we can level the playing field by introducing professional creative tools to students as soon as they start at FAMU.”

Florida A&M University campus.

Transforming teaching and learning

Professors in all fields take advantage of the creative apps to nurture students’ digital skills. Mila Turner, former assistant professor in the Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice, typically ended her “Sociology of the Black Experience” course with a research paper. After learning some instructional uses of Adobe apps, Turner offered to let students turn in a multimedia project using Adobe Express.

“Adobe Express is fantastic option for media projects,” says Turner. “It’s easy to learn — students only needed a short introduction to start working with the online app and building their digital literacy skills. Students can share their projects online, either with classmates for feedback or with potential employers during interviews for jobs or internships.”

Ramona C. Pierre submitted PROTECTHER, an exploration of inequalities faced by Black women in the justice system. Combining text, tables, graphics, and video, the project creates a compelling story that highlights issues faced by incarcerated Black women. Only for Profit by Lacey Malone explores inequal treatment of Black artists in the music industry, including compelling videos of performances and interviews.

Carlos Miranda, assistant professor of Graphic Communication at the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication at FAMU, has long taught students to use creative apps in his graphic design courses, from using Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign to create magazines to using Adobe Substance 3D Painter to texture 3D models in animation courses.

“Becoming an Adobe Creative Campus has really changed how we teach design,” explains Miranda. “Now everyone has access to the latest version of every app. We spend a lot less time trying to work around different technologies and more time focused on teaching design.”

Florida A&M University students gathering on campus.

Giving students a leg up

With greater access to professional creative apps, students push themselves to become communicators, creators, and innovators who stand out from their peers and make their mark on the national stage.

Ahmad Kebe always had a passion for sports, but he didn’t consider a career in sports broadcasting until he came to FAMU. Now, as a fourth-year broadcast journalism student, Kebe is learning to do it all: write articles, produce video segments, and host his own podcast.

“I can do anything with Adobe Creative Cloud apps,” says Kebe. “Adobe Audition is my main app since I do a lot of voiceover work for radio, podcasts, and video. It’s easy to edit on there and it allows me to push out new episodes of my podcast weekly. Adobe Photoshop is my go-to for any graphics I need, and I’ve learned how to edit video with Premiere Pro, too.”

As an intern for FAMU athletics, Kebe gets the hands-on experience that he needs to become a skilled member of the sports broadcasting community. “When I first started in sports broadcasting, everything was new. But Adobe Creative Cloud was pretty easy to learn and before I knew it, I was creating everything myself,” says Kebe. “Having these creative skills and real-world experiences will help set me apart when I start off in my career.”

Fourth-year graphic design student Kah’Milah Ledgester started her academic career in biology before a drawing class opened her eyes to the potential of her artistic talent. But it was her desire to challenge herself that led her to graphic design.

“My artistic experience was mainly just doodling — I had never worked in digital mediums before,” explains Ledgester. “But I wanted to push myself, play around, and figure out how things work. Adobe apps are so easy to learn because the interfaces are similar enough that I don’t feel like I’m starting from scratch. Adobe Fresco is my favorite app when I’m on the go, but I love playing around with Adobe XD the best. It’s fun to try out different things and see what you can create.”

Florida A&M University Campus building.

Today, Ledgester has won multiple design challenges for her work, including the JCPenney Young, Black & Gifted Design Contest and the Target HBCU Design Challenge. Her work can also be seen across FAMU through her internships where she was tasked with creating graphics, logos, videos, and other marketing content used by FAMU groups.

“Having access to creative apps through the Creative Campus program is really a lifesaver,” says Ledgester. “I don’t have to go to a lab — I can revise my designs from my dorm which saves me so much time.”

Recent FAMU grad Elijah Rutland quickly found audiences for his bold designs. He was chosen to participate in high profile collaborations with Mercedes-Benz, Nike, Beats by Dre, and the NBA All-Star Game. His company Fix My Sole specializes in custom sneaker art while also selling original apparel and prints.

“FAMU becoming an Adobe Creative Campus really helped me expand my creativity,” says Rutland. “I can take advantage of all the apps and services, including Adobe Portfolio and access to Adobe Stock. It’s helping everyone at FAMU make the leap to professional digital tools.”

During internships for Warner Bros. Animation and Disney Television Animation, Rutland got a taste for how his experiences with the creative apps could help him work more efficiently and impress employers. “I mainly worked as a background painter using Photoshop to complete anywhere from two to four backgrounds a week,” says Rutland. “I use Photoshop pretty much every day, so knowing how to whip out the clipping mask really helped me get the job done faster.”

Reaching the next generation

FAMU is actively exploring ways to start incorporating more creative apps in freshmen level classes to get students to start thinking about expression and creative communication from their very first day.

“Traditionally digital literacy meant being able to surf the web, email, and write a paper. Now literacy is about content creation for video, print, and social media,” says Johnson. “As an Adobe Creative Campus, we hope our students can participate in the next wave of digital creations.”

Find out more about the Adobe Creative Campus program.