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Featured Alumni

artwork by Garfield Woods
2007 Advertising graduate

Aurora Ansara
Steadfast Brand
Bachelor of Science in Advertising, 2006

Aurora Ansara graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and immediately plunged into the business by connecting with Steadfast Brand which designs merchandise for boutiques and stores around the world.

"Steadfast Brand is the latest endeavor by Chris Collins who wanted to unite the art and style of the people who shared the same interests," says Aurora. "The company has deep roots in the tattoo and extreme sports industries through participation and promotion of individuals and events." Aurora assists in designing high quality clothing and gear including shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, belts, buckles, hats and more. "I'm a part of the fashion, advertising, and tattoo industries -- it's an amazing blend of creativity and business."Steadfast Brand continually strives for community participation and holds contests for artwork, ads, and ideas (including at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale) to help the company develop and evolve.

"My position allows me the opportunity to learn new sports, travel, take photos, create graphics, get tattooed and pierced, and continually learn new things," continues Aurora. She draws her inspiration from a dynamic foundation of creative instructors including Paul Kane, Debbie Rose Myers, Christine David, and Mike Carnegie. "They've all lead amazing lives, have fulfilling careers, and continue to set new limits for themselves while openly and continually sharing their knowledge," says Aurora.

Aurora's advice to new students is, "Continue to push yourself to the next level and reach new goals so you can set even higher goals for yourself."


Daniel Ziriakus
Marketing Executive
Fraser Yachts Worldwide
Bachelor of Science in Advertising, 2006

Born and raised in Munich, Germany, Daniel Ziriakus currently the Marketing Executive for Fraser Yachts Worldwide, responsible for marketing, advertising, public relations, and events. In 2006, Daniel graduated with a bachelor's degree in Advertising from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.

After high school, Daniel traveled to Australia and then returned to Germany. He was hired in the marketing department of Estee Lauder and his interest in a creative career began to blossom. He combed Europe looking for a school which would suit his needs and discovered that he wanted to be in Florida and The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale was the school for him. "I didn't want to simply study business or communication design," says Daniel, "I specifically wanted the combination of studies that the college offered in their Advertising program."

Within eight months at school, Daniel landed internships in the advertising field where he tested his skills in a real life scenario. "Getting the real world experience through The Art Institute really paid off in the end," says Daniel. "Before I even graduated, I had two job offers and at portfolio review I received more. I decided to go with Bridger Conway, a global branding agency in Miami, where I signed the contract to work at my first job as a Communication Designer the day after graduation."

Daniel continues, "The quality of education I received at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale prepared me for everything that I have to face on a daily basis in the real world."


Garfield Woods
Supervisor, Edior, and Creative Director
Special Publications Unit
Bachelor of Science in Advertising, 2007

Garfield Woods, of Trinidad and Tobago, graduated with honors and the "Best Conceptual Portfolio" in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in Advertising from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. His portfolio was brimming with impressive designs to launch his career in Graphic Design. Included was the Community Marine Award poster design he won from the National Week of the Ocean organization. He was awarded for "capturing the environment in a new, innovative way."

The design was featured on the cover of Promenade newspaper and in promotional materials produced by the company. Additionally, the marine design was awarded "The Best of the Best In-house Design" by Graphic Design USA magazine. The design is scheduled to appear in the July 2007 edition of the magazine, as well as in the Annual Awards, a 300-page publication featuring a collection of outstanding design work.

Prior to enrolling as a student at The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Garfield served in the capacity of supervisor, editor, and creative director of the Special Publications Unit (SPU). SPU is a department within the Trinidad Publishing Company, publishers of the daily Trinidad Guardian, and weekly Sunday Guardian newspapers. The SPU department caters to the development and publication of advertising/marketing editorial content for businesses within the newspaper, and is instrumental in the development of in-house promotions and corporate identity development for the newspaper. The Trinidad Guardian newspaper is one of Trinidad and Tobago's prominent daily newspapers and has been in existence for over 80 years.

Woods' talent within the advertising industry didn't come about by accident; rather, it was harnessed through a series of interrelated fields stemming from his innate ability for fine art. Talent within the arts helped open a door for Woods to enter into the graphic design industry. After earning a Graphic Design diploma in his native country and investing 13 years in the industry, his path eventually lead him to advertising.

Apart from his talent, Garfield is a very motivated individual who additionally possesses high aspirations. In a nutshell, his creative ability spans illustration, graphic design, web design, copywriting, advertising, strategic management, and marketing research.


Maria Vargas
Vice President of Strategic Partnerships
Wannado City
Bachelor of Science in Advertising, 2007

Maria Vargas graduated with a bachelor's degree in Advertising in 2007 and is a Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Wannado City, an indoor role-playing theme park in southern Florida. She creates strategic alliances, promotions, and cross-marketing opportunities between Wannado City and marketing partners.

Originally from Colombia, Maria always knew she wanted to be in advertising. "I did my research and The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale was the perfect option for me. I not only learned about advertising, but photography, graphic design, writing, public relations, and marketing. All the teachers were very creative, approachable, and open minded. They were more than teachers, they were mentors."

Maria's advice to students and prospective students is, "Do it. Do it right. Do it right now."


Robert Nutt
Creative Director
The Design Group
Associate of Science in Advertising, 1982

Robert Nutt graduated in 1982 with an associate’s degree in Advertising Design from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. He is the Creative Director of The Design Group, Greensboro, NC. Robert says his career as a creative director is great because of the, “creative freedom, expression, and knowing I am getting paid for doing something I like, trained for, and can do well.”

Robert’s experience includes writing, illustrating, layout, and mechanical work for published ‘Amy's Light” in 2009, a children's book with Flash animated reading. He also did all of the Flash work including audio coaching and recording of his daughter. Illustrations are created from digital photo image building using photographs he took. Marvel at the talent:

“Believe in your ability, nurture your dreams, and tackle every challenge with the realization that in the end it always works out,” is Robert’s advice to future students. The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale was a place of learning and being with fellow artists of varying degrees of skill, talent, background and life experiences, and sharing the journey.”



If you have a success story of your own that you would like to share, please submit it to our Alumni Coordinator at or call 1-800-275-7603, ext. 2611.

The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale

1799 S.E. 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316-3013
1.954.463.3000 • 1.800.275.7603
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