Alum’s career takes off deep in the heart of Texas

LSU Shreveport alumna Harper McKnight’s college experiences helped prepare her for a demanding communications career in one of the nation’s hottest cities for young creatives.

Harper graduated in December of 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. She started working at the United Way of Northwest Louisiana in Shreveport, where she had interned during college. She worked there until the end of 2021, when she joined the staff of Refugee Services of Texas as a full-time graphic designer. The Austin-based nonprofit organization helps refugees from all over the world resettle in Texas.

“I had a goal of living in Austin, Texas, for a very long time, and things just kind of worked out,” says Harper. “Honestly, I’ve done much more in my career than I thought I would have.”

“I can have direct interactions with the people we serve,” Harper says.  “Our clients have to put total trust in strangers, which is crazy to think about. Some of these families have children who have been in refugee camps their entire lives.”

Her job includes traveling to the agency’s service centers in cities around Texas. Harper notes that two to three percent of all refugees coming to the United States settle in Texas. In the past year, the agency has helped people from Afghanistan, Ukraine and Mexico, among other countries, make new homes in Texas.

Harper jumped right into the job earlier this year, helping design everything from routine social media posts to the organization’s annual report. She also worked with the agency’s creative team to design the cover of Plated Stories, a fund-raiser cookbook.

Harper’s experiences as an LSUS Foundation Navigator – a campus ambassador – laid the foundation for creating connections with community members and coworkers.

Harper McKnight, at right, celebrates National Denim Day at Hank’s Austin with co-workers Perla Carranza and Hannah Goldberg.

“The importance of connections and networking, that was definitely impressed upon me being one of the Navigators. We had so many opportunities for networking and I sharpened my skills there,” Harper says. “During my experiences at LSUS and United Way, I grew my project management skills, which helped me here, because the agency has gone through so much growth under the current presidential administration.”

She wants others to know how valuable the LSUS experience is. She’s grateful for the LSUS Transfer Scholarship and the LSUS Foundation Navigator Scholarship that allowed her to earn a four-year degree at LSUS.

“I tell people all the time how grateful I was for my experiences at LSUS, and the scholarships I received and the face-to-face time, especially through the LSUS Foundation. As I grow in my career I’m looking forward to supporting the scholarship that supported me.”