When David Elizalde ’06 looked at his math notes and saw more doodles on the side of the page than writing, he knew he wanted to pursue the arts in the longterm.
“I love the idea of a blank canvas. There are few opportunities and professions where you’re presented with a challenge, but there’s no existing framework. It’s not just channeling your own creativity but understanding your audience.”
Elizalde pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design at TCU. He enjoyed a personalized education that pushed his creative abilities and provided valuable professional connections. He also received his Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from the Neeley School of Business in 2007.
“It’s full circle. I had no idea when I showed up as a freshman in 2002 that I would be chair of the department one day.”
Elizalde interned at Pier 1 Imports in the packaging department and joined Warren Douglas Advertising as one of three interns after graduation. The company grew to 45 employees, and Elizalde became the associate creative director overseeing a team of eight creative professionals and a portfolio of international clients.
Becoming the Department of Design Chair
Elizalde maintained close relationships with his former professors and visited campus for student exhibitions and critiques. In 2014, he was offered a position as an adjunct professor and transitioned to academia a year later to pursue his passion for teaching.
Elizalde was encouraged by other faculty to apply when the chair position opened. To prepare for the role, he participated in leadership training courses to shift his skillset in creative problem solving for design to people.
“I felt it was the right decision to apply for the role and invest in the department to serve our faculty and students.”
Elizalde is focusing on three things in his new role:
- Reflecting on the past to learn and gain insight
- Taking a survey of the department’s current strengths
- Looking at where the department is headed
His goal is to continue building the department’s level of excellence and 100% job placement rate through collaborations with the professional community and building student body diversity. Elizalde wants to reach students from marginalized backgrounds and show them an education at TCU is possible. He is also exploring new courses and degree offerings to cultivate career success.
David Elizalde’s Tips to Students
- Be patient. You never know when you will shine and find success.
- Remain humble. You do not know what opportunities are ahead, so continue to learn and be available.
- Invest in community. No career is going to be perfect. Connect with your family, neighborhood or a professional organization to provide a quality of life that will help you navigate career challenges.
- Be ready for change. It’s hard to know what path you’re going to take, so keep the door open to the possibilities for success and growth.