Ryan Aumiller Award

Published by Cindy Buckley Koren on

In honor of his outstanding dedication to the Communications Design Department at PrattMWP – The Ryan Aumiller Memorial Award was established in 2012 .

Through the generous contributions from family of founding technician Ryan Aumiller for 2020 we were able to recognize two students who persevered through the major inconvenience of the Covid-19 health crisis and displayed outstanding progress by embracing technology with with grace and good humor! Congratulations!

2020 Cynthia Siqi Yang

Cynthia bravely walks into the nature, climbing and diving are her passions. She won the gold standard for Field Survival Training Camp of the Duke of Edinburgh International Award in UK. At the same time, she obtained the open water diver license and advanced open water diver license through her efforts. Besides, she loves sharing. She set up a coral club in high school to teach her peers how to dive and how to cultivate corals on the sea floor. In 2016, she cooperated with Shenzhen Folk Marine Organization to assist local fishermen and villagers to improve the water quality of Meisha, hoping that more people can see the beautiful underwater world. Her art works are often inspired by nature, making collages and models from waste and recyclable materials to draw attention to environmental protection.

2020 – Ada Hayduke-Toomath is an upstate New York based artist that is currently majoring in COMD Illustration at PrattMWP. She is going to work in the graphic novel industry after Pratt. Her main strengths are character design and drafting. There has been much support from her family thanks to her aunt and grandmother being artists. https://www.instagram.com/laixae/

2019 – Hyunda Kang is currently a sophomore at Pratt MWP, majoring in Communication Design. Utilizing mind-mapping, sketching, and researching as parts of her creative process, she transforms her ideas into actual things in unique ways. She was born and raised in Japan. However, her nationality is Korean. She grew up in an environment that had three different cultures: Japanese, Korean, and American. This background influences her artwork.

2018 – Adam Afzali is a NYC native, who currently attends Pratt Institute in Utica New York. He originally went to school for Psychology, but later switched to Graphic Design/ Illustration. Adam brings a raw and unique energy into his work. His playful, satirical personality gives him an interesting perspective that is reflected in his work. I’m his personal time you can find him at your local bodega.

2017 Bridget Swayne Born in Denver and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, B.F.A. candidate Bridget Swayne is studying Communications Design. She was recently recognized by GDUSA as student to watch and will be continuing her studies on the Brooklyn campus.

2017 Audrey Vandermeulen
Audrey Vandermeulen also recognized by GDUSA, Audrey is a freelance illustrator and designer from Massachusetts, where she has sold paintings at the Newburyport Art Association and the Salisbury Beach Betterment Association. She has recently designed an innovative new font, and had her first textile design printed on fabric. She has been commissioned to design t-shirts, phone cases, greeting cards, business logos, and customized convention ID badges. Audrey’s work has a simplistic style but contains a high level of detail and a very colorful palette, with a focus on the subject of real and imaginary creatures, nature, and celestial symbols.



Alejandro Alvarez is a Dominican designer and photographer. His logo design for America’s Greatest Heart Run and Walk will be used in 2017 to help raise over one million dollars for the American Heart Association. Although he is concentrating in graphic design he also focuses on photography, illustration and screen-printing. Alejandro was introduced from a really young age to the world of design, thanks to his grandfather, one of the most recognized advertisers in the Dominican Republic. Alejandro’s strong work ethic and spicy energy brings his work and the spirits of those around him to a higher level.


Marie-Laurence Daigle is a designer and painter. During her time at PrattMWP she developed her skills in design and two of her student projects were recognized by Packaging of the World. Her passion for creativity has led her to express herself in fine arts, outdoor murals and graphic design. She is influenced by many different abstract artists and modern designers. As an artist, Marie-Laurence would like to create pieces that involve music and musicians; her dream is to create albums and posters for the music industry and spend her lifetime exploring colors, shapes, balance and rhythm in her artwork.

class of 2015

Congratulations to the entire student body at PrattMWP class of 2015. The most difficult part of my job is selecting award winners out of such a highly creative group of students. Each of these award winning students produced outstanding work in the classroom and contributed in many other ways such as the PrattMWP Design Group—a newly formed student club that was responsible for events such as Let’s Get Busy and the Sharpener Design-a-thon event.

The Ryan Aumiller Memorial Award 2015

photo credit: Adam Heisig

Honoring the memory of the founding computer technician at PrattMWP, this award recognizes outstanding progress and professionalism in the  area of Communications Design. The student earning this award produced superior work and pushed each piece beyond all expectations. The family and friends of Ryan Aumiller give special recognition to Ruby Muñoz for her info graphic design that inspired the collaborative animation highlighting the facts about suicide.

The Taylor Strait Memorial HOPE Award 2015

Named for a former PrattMWP ComD student, this award recognizes an outstanding student who excels in advertising and art direction. It was presented to Adam Heisig who has been honored nationally as a student to watch by GD USA magazine. Additionally, his package design and branding campaign was internationally recognized by both Packaging of the World and on the DieLINE under the headline, “Concepts we wish were real.”

PrattMWP ComD Class of 2014
PrattMWP ComD Class of 2014

Thanks to this year’s generous donations we were able to grant two awards for 2014 to honor ComD founding technician Ryan Aumiller.

Cindiana and Virginia Bahena

Virgina Bahena and Aviv Tchernichovski were honored at the PrattMWP Commencement Ceremony at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute on May 15th.

In recognition of his outstanding dedication to the Communications Design Department at PrattMWP – The Ryan Aumiller Memorial Award was established in 2012 to honor students that display outstanding progress and professionalism in communications design.

The essence of this award reflects the ability of these students to embrace new technology and naturally assist fellow classmates with grace and good humor. Both this year’s recipients demonstrated remarkable communication skills—especially with regards to creative project advice and helpful technical guidance. They also both volunteered their skills to contribute outside of the classroom.

Virgina Bahena hails from Chicago and is a diehard hockey fan. She consistently displayed outstanding progress inside and outside of the classroom. Beyond her typical assignments she summed up the fall semester in a blackboard list that now serves as the first draft of the Communications Design Survival Guide. She also utilized her silkscreening skills to assist with the Reclaim the Kitchen project—a collaboration with Debra Richardson from the Leaf Loaf and Ladle. Links: Virginia’s behance portfolio and Virginia’s Word it page.

Cindiana, Aviv T. and Beth Post

Aviv Tchernichovski originally from Israel but now living in Beacon NY will be heading to Brooklyn in the fall to continue her studies in illustration. She’s also interested in graphic design and typography. Her hobbies include learning etymology, getting unflattering pictures of herself taken and collecting toy teacups.

Aviv provided me with valuable assistance as I prepared my TEDx Utica Talk including this adorable illustration of me. Aviv has been developing a wide range of illustration and design skills that is demonstrated well here on her Behance portfolio. and  her  Word it page.

Cindiana with Nicole Riddle

Additionally, Nicole Riddle – should be mentioned here, as I know that Ryan would have liked to see her recognized for her extreme effort and remarkable dependability. Nicole was always the first student in the lab every morning and she attended every event without fail. She quietly did everything and anything that was asked of her. This included helping me with my lectures and pushing her projects as far as they could go—all without complaining…or at least I never heard her. 😉 Nicole’s portfolio. Nicole’s Wordit page.

2013 Ryan Aumiller Memorial Award recipient Alix Pfisterer from New Hartford, NY.

In recognition of his outstanding dedication to the Communications Design Department at PrattMWP – The Ryan Aumiller Memorial Award was established in 2012 to honor a student that displays outstanding progress and professionalism in communications design.

Whatever was put in front of her, including her battle with Chrones Disease or the tragic loss of her dearest friend, Alix Pfisterer impressed and inspired us all.

This young designer with every reason to take a break, met each challenge of her sophomore year at PrattMWP with strength and grace—then pushed out some amazing work. Beyond the regular classload and her part-time job at Paragon Athletic Club she served as a key member for the “Raised in NY” project team and her designs were ultimately chosen for the final packaging.

For her final project for Visual Communications Alix created and designed the Nonchalance brand from concept, to packaging with an advertising campaign whose motto included the following steps:

  1. inhale.
  2. exhale.
  3. relax.

For more of Alix Pfisterer’s work please check:

Alix’s behance portfolio page

Alix’s Word its page

Alix has been accepted to Cazenovia College where she will continue her studies in Graphic Design and play on the college’s womens lacross team.

The Ryan Aumiller Memorial Award 2012
For Outstanding Progress in Communications Design

2012 marked a tragic loss for the Upstate New York creative community and particularly Pratt at Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute.

Dan Sabatini WKTV
Click [HERE] for WKTV coverage of PrattMWP Convocation

In recognition of his outstanding dedication to the Communications Design Department at PrattMWP – The Ryan Aumiller Memorial Award was established to honor a student that displays outstanding progress and professionalism in communications design. This year’s class from PrattMWP was a particularly talented and wonderful group—but one student stood out as a clear choice for this honor.

Congratulations to LaQuaya Lee for her endless enthusiasm and hunger for learning and making.

The mark left in the ComD Lab by Ryan’s nature was friendly and funny, yet patient and professional. He had the tendency to explain things far more thoroughly than necessary. He took care of things, he was a fixer. He was a dependable joy to be with and work with. LaQuaya Lee displays many of the same wonderful qualities and also left her mark in the ComD Lab. (for example: the jpeg library of her face on each desktop)

Painting currently on exhibit at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art.
LaQuaya Lee at annual ComD Picnic – 2012

    Click here to see LaQuaya Lee‘s behance portfolio. 

Ryan Aumiller – Mark (The Fossil Song) Lyrics
“Leave your mark and just move along”
[link to more photos of ceremony by Nancy Ford Photography]

What have we learned from Ryan Aumiller?

  1. Learn the rules THEN—and only then—break the rules.
  2. Software and font pirating are against the law – teachers and creative professionals must set a good example – no matter how tempting that new font is.
  3. Keep your desktop clean – Put the stuff you’re too scared to delete in an “Almost Trash” folder.
  4. Save, save often, and back up your important digital files.
  5. Never forget professionalism, generosity, and good catholic boy manners.
  6. Learn from your heros, work with people you respect, and never give up your integrity.
  7. more to come . . .

I’ll leave you with a quote from one of Ryan’s heros: 🙂

Stay hungry ~ stay foolish – steve jobs if you would like to donate to the Award Fund—please contact Cindy Koren at ckoren@mwpai.edu or 315.797.0000.


Aumiller Love

Ryan Aumiller

June 14, 1966 – March 9, 2012


full obituary and service info [HERE]

I’ve lost a hero, Ryan Aumiller was one of the kindest, most righteous and beautiful men this world has known. His dash made a positive difference in my life and the lives of so many others. This moving poem was recited at his funeral service. I hope it will bring peace to those who knew him.

Ryan W. AumillerJune 14, 1966 – March 9, 2012

The Dash Poem by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speakat the funeral of a friendhe referred to the dates on her tombstonefrom the beginning to the endhe noted that first came the date of her birthand spoke the following date with tears,but he said what mattered most of allwas the dash between those yearsfor that dash represents all the timethat she spent alive on earth.and now only those who loved herknow what that little line is worth.for it matters not how much we own;the cars, the house, the cash,what matters is how we live and loveand how we spend our dash.so think about this long and hard.are there things you’d like to change?for you never know how much time is left,that can still be rearranged.if we could just slow down enoughto consider what’s true and realand always try to understandthe way other people feel.and be less quick to anger,and show appreciation moreand love the people in our liveslike we’ve never loved before.if we treat each other with respect,and more often wear a smileremembering that this special dashmight only last a little while.so, when your eulogy is being readwith your life’s actions to rehashwould you be proud of the things they sayabout how you spent your dash?poem by Linda Ellis


Visitation will be held Tuesday from 3:00-6:00 at St. Mark’s Church, 440 Keyes Road, North Utica. Ryan’s funeral service and Celebration of Life will commence on Tuesday evening at 6:00 at St. Mark’s Church immediately upon conclusion of visitation, where his Mass of Christian Burial will be offered. In lieu of floral offerings, expressions of sympathy in the form of donations may be made to the family to enable the establishment of a scholarship fund for Ryan’s daughter; envelopes will be available at the service. If you are unavailable to be present at the service or obtain an envelope, remembrances may be sent to the Eannace Funeral Home, Inc. 932 South St., Utica, NY 13501 and will be forwarded to the family.

Obituary for Ryan W. Aumiller

Ryan Aumiller

Mr. Ryan W. Aumiller, age 45, of Utica, a cherished husband, father, brother, nephew, uncle, and friend, passed away unexpectedly Friday March 9, 2012 in the privacy of his home.
Ryan was born Ryan Willis Aumiller on June 14, 1966 in Albany, NY, the youngest child of the late Richard and Gloria (Cappallo) Aumiller. Ryan attended school in Liverpool NY, graduating from Liverpool High School in 1984 and going on to SUNY College Oswego where he received a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design. After working a short while in Graphic Design, Ryan’s gifted technical skills led him to start his own company, Computer and Business, Inc. which later became Ryan Macintosh Solutions. As the economy began to limit his business opportunities Ryan accepted a position at the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute including the Pratt School of Art working as a computer technician; a position he loved.
However, little did Ryan know that renting an apartment above Pizza Heaven in 1992 would lead him to find his own Heaven on Earth; his family. What started as a friendship, would, with one subtle hand hold at the movies, forge an eternal bond with the woman who would become his loved and cherished wife of over 16 years, Donna M Coppola. Ryan and Donna shared a love, devotion, and passion that anyone would aspire to find, yet so few do. In 2001, Ryan and Donna were again blessed with their greatest gift, their daughter Danielle. Ryan so loved his “favorite girl” Danielle and shared every interest and adventure with her, and especially loved their “Father/Daughter” Tuesday Dates.
As a young boy, Ryan’s extraordinary artistic ability and creativity stood out, in his sketching, his singing, his school projects, etc., he was magically creative and gifted with both his hands and mind. As technology advanced, so did Ryan’s ability to express himself as the digital era would provide Ryan an ideal median to express his heart and soul through music. With no formal music training and only as a hobby, Ryan demonstrated his talent as a singer, guitarist, and musician, composing and performing several original songs to be treasured by his family. Ryan was quick-witted, fun-loving, and always had a smile upon his face. Ryan’s repertoire of impersonations and sense of humor made every family gathering a complete joy. Ryan had the unique ability to diffuse stress with laughter and bring out a smile in the most difficult of situations.
In addition to music, Ryan’s many hobbies and passions included fishing, jet-skiing, enjoying local music, supporting numerous local charities, and spending time at his family cottage on the Great Sacandaga Reservoir in the foothills of the Adirondacks, but most of all being with his wife, daughter, family, and friends. He was a parishioner of St. Mark’s Church.
Remaining to forever cherish Ryan’s memory are his wife, Donna; and his precious daughter, Danielle; his brother and sister-in-law, Richard W., Jr. and Mary Aumiller of Clarence Center, NY; his sister and brother-in-law, Robyn and Greg Low of N. Syracuse; his maternal grandmother, Virginia Cappallo; nieces and nephews, Jon, Kevin, Cameron; Alexandra “Allie”; and Joey; aunts and uncles, Sharyn Cappallo, Kevin and Linda Cappallo, and Renee and Bruce Randall; great-aunts, great-uncles, and cousins; father-in-law, Philip C. Coppola; in-laws, Lori and Joseph White, and Steve Coppola; aunts and uncles of the Coppola family, especially acknowledging Virginia Coppola and her daughter Tina; and the many wonderful friends with whom Ryan was blessed throughout his life. Ryan was predeceased by his mother and father Gloria and Richard Aumiller; his maternal grandfather, Willis Cappallo; paternal grandparents, Walt and Connie Aumiller; and his mother-in-law, Dorothy A. Coppola.
Though tragically short, Ryan leaves a legacy of life, love and devotion, and will be greatly missed by all of his family and friends. Ryan will never be forgotten as his kindness, love, and friendship touched the lives of all those who have been blessed to know him. God Bless you Ryan as you are together again with your mom and dad. We love you.
The family would like to acknowledge the dedication of the Deerfield Volunteer Rescue Team; Donna’s sister, Lori for her valiant efforts; the St. Elizabeth Medical Center for their sympathy, and comfort; and Sue Cooper for her support and compassion. Donna wishes to thank her family and all the many wonderful friends for their support, love, and devotion.


Visitation will be held Tuesday from 3:00-6:00 at St. Mark’s Church, 440 Keyes Road, North Utica. Ryan’s funeral service and Celebration of Life will commence on Tuesday evening at 6:00 at St. Mark’s Church immediately upon conclusion of visitation, where his Mass of Christian Burial will be offered. In lieu of floral offerings, expressions of sympathy in the form of donations may be made to the family to enable the establishment of a scholarship fund for Ryan’s daughter; envelopes will be available at the service. If you are unavailable to be present at the service or obtain an envelope, remembrances may be sent to the Eannace Funeral Home, Inc. 932 South St., Utica, NY 13501 and will be forwarded to the family.

Ryan Aumiller Obituary from Utica OD

Click HERE to see why Ryan was too good for this world.


This Christmas I went without. First, I lost the use of my left arm. I really missed it. Having my arm in a sling because of rotator cuff surgery has rendered me helpless in many common situations.

I couldn’t do some very simple tasks that I had taken for granted…

For instance, I can’t cut my food, comb my hair, or  tie my shoes, but none of this compares to  the great loss I feel from the death of my close friend and creative colleague Ryan Aumiller.

The inside of the card. Bring on the waterworks. :(

Detail of Ryan’s heart.  🙁

It has been nine long months….it is too hard to talk about. The situation is delicate because Ryan took his own life. We may never understand … but we will always know how he lived his life and that he never meant to cause us such sadness.

If he had died from a disease or in a horrible accident would it be easier to talk about? Would we have worn ribbons in his honor? Would we form teams in his memory? How do we go on from here?

Found this with my Christmas stuff... bring on the waterworks.

Found this with my Christmas stuff, it is few years old. [tear|

Ryan Aumiller was an angel on this earth. His memory will live on forever. I love the angel on this card that he gave to me, he looks so happy—just the way I remember Ryan. 🙂

thank you. 🙂
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Cindy Buckley Koren

Cindy Buckley Koren is the founder of {meetinghouse} Creative Collaborative and Professor of Communications Design at PrattMWP College of Art and Design


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