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Cover of Summer 2004 Issue


The Tale of the Ruber Duck

Imgae: Michael Huey '98 with a rubber duck in his hand.Longwood mailed a total of 1,622 boxes containing yellow ducks to prospective donors inviting them to learn more about the upcoming comprehensive campaign. What did a small rubber duck have to do with Longwood? That question brought many supporters flocking to find out.

It started with a print of a yellow duck given as a thank you to Longwood President Dr. Patricia Cormier, from a graduating senior, Michael Huey. Michael's mother passed away the summer before his first semester at Longwood. Not only did her death leave Michael distraught, but because for most of Michael's life she had been a single mom, it also meant his financial support was gone.

Michael had been accepted at Longwood and had enough money in his bank account for one semester. Going to Longwood would be risky, but the alternative of pumping gas was just too bleak. His goal was a better life; thus Longwood was worth the risk.

In 1994 Michael entered Longwood. Soon after arriving, a staff member got him counseling and he was able to outline his life to get past his problems and to focus on the future. Michael then applied for student funding and found design work wherever he could; earning $50 here and there. From the beginning, doors of opportunity and understanding were opened to Michael.

In his sophomore year, Michael began working for Tim Trent in printing services. "Tim was my powerhouse. He focused my attention on taking my design talent one step further into the production world. Tim would counsel me on the industry, what to expect, what to look out for and how to be extremely efficient. Today I have an edge on many of my contemporaries because of Tim. There are many graphic designers, but there are few designers with a foundation in production. Seeing other people's production problems allows you to learn before they become yours."

Although Michael had much going for him at Longwood, there were times when his living situation became desperate. The worst was when he was living out of his car. "Dr. Cormier immediately found a way to help. She allowed me to stay on campus that summer, work for Tim and water the plants outside the dining hall for food. I would never have been able to graduate had she and so many others not let me slip through the cracks."

"When I heard Michael's story, I was greatly moved," said
Dr. Cormier. "Out of his incredible story of determination and the impact Longwood had on him, the duck theme was born. With Michael's approval, we shared the ‘Tale of the Rubber Duck' with many alumni and friends as we began our campaign. Michael's story was an excellent example of why Longwood needed a successful campaign. We have an excellent institution, but we need funds to ensure that students like Michael are given the opportunity and environment that will support their educational needs. Our campaign will show countless other Michaels that we believe in them and entrust our future to them."

Michael is grateful to Longwood. "Longwood was good to me. It taught me that nothing is handed to you, but if you want something, the resources are available; you just need to do your part and work for it. When I came out of Longwood, I was prepared. I had design skills, production knowledge and confidence."

Today Michael is grooming himself to be an art director in graphic design. He works full time with production, web and print design for Infinite Photo and Imaging in Springfield, Virginia. Michael teaches digital photography, computer graphics, web design and 3-D animation part-time at Commonwealth Academy in Alexandria.