Creating a Celebration for Our History

Graphic artist Nikita Vyas created our anniversary website and was rewarded with a free course

We are so excited to announce that we are celebrating our 130th anniversary! Since 1891, it has been our pleasure to serve and support our students’ academic and professional goals. We remain committed to our mission of sharing the high academic standards of UC Berkeley with our community.

And our students are getting involved in celebrating this milestone! Read on to see how:

Taking the Leap Into Web Graphic Designing

Designing for the web is, naturally, one of the most important skills a graphic designer can have. Web Design With HTML5 and CSS3 was created to give designers a foundation in web design and development.

Sometimes it spurs students to pivot into web development. For others, it helps them as designers to better interact with web developers to deliver designs that are more efficiently integrated into responsive and accessible sites.

For Nikita Vyas, it was the latter.

130th Anniversary site header

The final project in that class was to design a site to commemorate our 130th anniversary. Instructor Steve Fuller gave students our historical timeline and a stockpile of photos, and then tasked them to present the information and photos in a creative way.

Nikita runs down some of her initial thought processes:

  • “Initial brainstorming of the website included the creation of wireframes. I sketched two versions each of the layouts for the homepage, decade page and 2021 page.
  • “After finalizing one of the two layouts, I used Adobe XD to create low-fidelity designs, keeping in mind the 12-column grid system and responsiveness.
  • “The next step was to create high-fidelity designs and build a prototype. One of the challenges was incorporating the 130-year logo in the navigation bar. It was a vertical logo, and the logo's content was not readable when sized down and placed in the navigation bar. As a solution I put it as the hero image so that it looks as if the light is originating from the logo, which resonates with its tagline. I placed the UC Berkeley Extension logo on the navigation bar instead, which links to the main website.”

Nikita then continues to specify some of the steps she took when she was thick in the building out of the site:

  • “The website was designed to maintain simplicity, clarity and a smooth user experience.
  • “The layout is clean and minimal, which aligns with the style of the UC Berkeley and UC Berkeley Extension websites.
  • “In terms of the breakdown of the structure, the site contains a total of nine pages: one homepage, one page dedicated to the current year 2021 and seven pages for two decades each.
  • “Iconic and historical images are interspersed with facts about important events or achievements from each decade. For the placement of images, I have used carousels with a Lightbox integrated into them. Several photos, being old, needed retouching and further processing in Adobe Photoshop.
  • “Final coding of the website was done using HTML and CSS, keeping in mind the response and dynamic nature of the website.
  • “To make the website look clean and less text-heavy, I used accordions for the body copy. “All elements are responsive and easily visible to make it user-friendly and accessible.
  • “I had access to UC Berkeley’s branding guidelines when choosing the colors, graphics, images and videos.”

When talking about her experiences during the site design and build, Nikita shares what interested her most about our history.

“How the university has evolved and adapted to the times and how accessible it has been through different times and circumstances,” she explains. “For example, during World War II, Extension classes and correspondence courses became an important way for service personnel to continue their education. From teaching on commuter trains, or, through correspondence courses, to the current online format, Extension has constantly evolved through time, making education as accessible as possible to a wide array of people and helping them launch their careers.”



It’s a challenge to design your first website from scratch. It’s a triumph when that first effort gains recognition as the best of the submissions in a competition. We are so proud of Nikita Vyas’ elegant design, which is just one element of her portfolio as she continues her education with us to switch careers into graphic design.

Investing In Her Creativity

While Nikita always harbored a love for creativity and art, her education focused on business: a bachelor’s in business administration and management from the International Institute of Professional Studies and then an M.B.A. in accounting and finance from Christ University in Bangalore.

Upon completing her M.B.A., Nikita landed a tax consultant position at Deloitte Tax Services Indian Pvt. Ltd., preparing tax returns for the firm’s U.K.-based clients. A little more than a year into the position, Nikita realized she couldn’t see herself doing this for her entire professional life. She was more interested in the design of those financial reports than the numbers.

“My passion for creativity pulled me toward graphic design.”

Intent on a more creative field, Nikita started taking courses, gaining certificates in graphic and web design, and then, through Coursera, completed a graphic design specialization offered by the California Institute of the Arts. All of this education complemented graphic design contract work in Southern California.

While she was learning new skills through these courses, Nikita desired a more formal education to truly make her career switch. So she turned to our Professional Program in Graphic Design.

“I immediately knew this was what I was looking for,” Nikita shares. “The program is affordable, has a very good selection of courses, and has classes in the evening and on weekends keeping in mind the schedule of working professionals. All of that worked out very well for me.”

Going Virtual

Nikita had never attempted a fully online program before, but she started this journey in the middle of the COVID pandemic in September 2020 when all of our courses went online. Completing the program in just one year, Nikita is still enthusiastic about learning online.

“Getting educated seemed impossible in the middle of a pandemic, but UC Berkeley Extension courses made it very accessible,” she says. “The instructors are very friendly and approachable and made sure we could get the best learning in the online setting. The way the classes were taught, I don't think I missed any aspect of an in-person setting, except getting to meet everyone physically. There were ample opportunities to interact, stay in touch and learn from each other.”

In fact, it was the camaraderie with her cohort that remains one of her favorite memories of the program.

“The classes were filled with people from many different backgrounds, and they were all talented and creative people with their own rich histories,” Nikita offers. “With the help of group feedback sessions, I got some really good suggestions and they were always very nice and polite with their critique. There was no jealousy or competition but only passion in appreciating and learning from each other.”

Perfecting a Portfolio

While Nikita enjoyed all seven required courses in the program, one of her favorites was Graphic and Web Design Portfolio. Taught by Program Director Ivan Trujillo, it’s a class that other program graduates—such as Ankita Mantri—have pointed out as a particularly valuable experience.

“The portfolio class helped me realize my design potential,” Nikita enthuses, “but it also helped me do the best to present my work in the most professional manner. I knew that my portfolio required a lot of changes, but I did not know what was missing. Ivan and his feedback helped me take it to a whole new level.”

Nikita has finished the program and is now working part time as a digital marketing and graphic design specialist at Urbani Real Estate Marketing while holding down an internship with aiXplain, Inc.

But her education with us continues! Because she won the 130-year-anniversary website competition, Nikita was awarded a free course.

Perhaps 2D Animation and Video Editing or Essentials of User Experience (UX) Design, Nikita? Whatever course you choose, we’re confident you will continue to excel.

Find your own path to a compelling career with the Professional Program in Graphic Design.