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Campaign gifts have created spaces to promote collaborative learning that elevate the educational experience of students like Ariel Baker.

Ariel Baker grew up in Great Falls with a passion for the arts. Visiting the city’s celebrated C.M. Russell Museum, Baker began to see art as a way of communicating her ideas to the world. Her creative energy soon found an outlet in painting and drawing.

During her senior year as a graphic design student at Montana State, Baker enrolled in a marketing course that prepares students to compete in the National Student Advertising Competition. The team included students from the College of Arts & Architecture and the Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship. Tasked with developing an advertising campaign to establish brand relevance with millennials for Ocean Spray, the group met regularly at the Risa K. Scott Collaboration Lab in Jabs Hall.

For Baker, it was the first time she had reason to venture into Jabs Hall. “As a graphic designer working with business students in Jabs Hall, it just really allowed us to cross-pollinate ideas and get a lot out of the experience,” she said. “I remember feeling like a professional.”

The team covered the walls of the ‘Co-Lab’ with ideas, transforming sketches into market-bound concepts. After advancing through the regional and semifinal rounds, the MSU team traveled to Chicago in early June to compete against national finalists from some of the country’s top universities. While they didn’t win the competition outright, Ocean Spray executives were so impressed with MSU’s presentation that they awarded Baker’s team the impromptu “Golden Cranberry Award” in recognition of MSU’s remarkable innovation and creativity.

Baker, who is pursuing a career in graphic design, feels that the Co-Lab space itself and the connections it offered her were not only the highlights of her academic career but, also gave her a unique set of tools and experiences far more valuable than those available in a typical classroom.