Olivet alumni find career success in interior design

Village Home Stores brought three alumni together in their professional lives.

Elizabeth (Meehan) Round ‘05 and Keri (Cannon) Swanberg ’11 never met at Olivet Nazarene University. They first connected over 7 years ago at a kitchen showroom and then both joined the team at Village Home Stores (VHS), an interior design business based in Geneseo, Illinois.  

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Although their paths did not cross before meeting in the workplace, Elizabeth and Keri had similar foundations from their educational pursuits in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at Olivet. 

As VHS’s marketing manager, Elizabeth’s job is to promote products and services to attract business to the store. As host of VHS’s weekly TV show, she frequently writes and delivers scripts on camera.

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“Presentation and public speaking skills are skills I developed at ONU,” she says. “I use those skills all the time as I share design tips and tour completed kitchens.” 

Elizabeth began her career as a kitchen and bath designer, but switched roles when management at VHS asked if she would transition to the role of marketing manager. When she started in the position, social media platforms were very new and VHS became early adopters of Instagram, Houzz, and Pinterest, giving the company an invaluable leg up on competition.

Keri manages the lighting department at VHS and facilitates ongoing relationships with local builders and designers. She also specs entire new homes for the best lighting products. “I love the challenge of helping our clients hone in on their own tastes and stay within their budgets,” Keri says. “Designing for my client’s taste, rather than my own, is a skill set I developed at ONU.” 

Keri adds, “Preparing a design or making a selection is one thing; selling it is quite another. Olivet’s interior design program boosted my ability to confidently engage with potential clients.” 

The Village Home Stores staff continues to grow to meet demands. Last summer, Sydney McCright ’19 joined the team as an intern and worked through the 2018 holiday season. 

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The interior design industry constantly shifts to adapt to new styles, trends and technologies. Keri and Elizabeth are confident that their education at Olivet set them up for professional success in the fast-paced interior design industry. Their professor and former department chair Dr. Diane Richardson says, “At Olivet, we believe strongly in laying a good foundation of design knowledge that is supported by practical experience and networking.”

The Interior Design program at Olivet takes an integrated approach to learning and every student is required to complete an internship to gain commercial experience and hone in on particular areas of design. In recent years, FACS students have gained a strong reputation in the national design community, exemplified by internships with several prestigious Chicago design firms.

To learn more about the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, contact the Office of Admissions at admissions@olivet.edu or 800-648-1463.

Photos submitted by Elizabeth Round. Used with permission.

Published: 1/17/2019