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Alumni Profile: Arts grad driven to design cars of the future

Seminole State alumnus Derek Murrell's work shows his passion for automotive design. 

Derek Murrell has been sketching cars for as long as he can remember. Even as a student at Lake Mary High School, he knew exactly what his career path would look like. When it came time to apply for college, he wanted to find a school where he could hone his art skills. A Seminole County resident, Murrell decided to stay close to home to pursue his associate degree, so it was a fairly easy decision when he learned Seminole State College of Florida offered a top-notch education in his chosen field for a price that wouldn’t break the bank.

Within weeks of being accepted, Murrell met his academic advisor, Rosa Alvarez. Alvarez immediately understood his passion for automotive design and helped him track through coursework that would further refine his skills. To this day, nearly three years after graduating from Seminole State with his Associate in Arts (A.A.) focused in fine arts, Murrell still talks to Alvarez about his dreams.

He is currently a junior studying transportation design at the Cleveland Institute of Art. He believes his foundation at Seminole State helped prepare him for success by exposing him to many different styles and critiques, and encouraging him to work hard for what he wants.

Beyond his relationship with Alvarez, Murrell credits studio art Professor Larry Vienneau as well as Adjunct Professor Giuseppe Corazzina with continuing to fuel his love for art and design. He also says a course in public speaking at Seminole State helped prepare him for the detailed presentations he’s regularly expected to give in front of design professionals from major automotive manufacturers at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

When he’s not studying or preparing assignments for his courses at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Murrell can be found…still sketching. He loves what he does that much, and he says it’s important to fine-tune his muscle memory. But it’s not all work and no play. Murrell laughs as he recalls a pretty amazing opportunity his passion afforded several years ago. He was selected by the “PINKS All Out” television program to race his high school auto shop teacher during a drag-racing competition. Murrell won and left with a brand-new Mustang GT.

This summer, Murrell is pursuing an internship in product design, where he hopes to further refine his skills before starting his senior year at the Cleveland Institute of Art in the fall. He’ll likely remain in the Midwest following graduation, since most of the major American car manufacturers are located there. One thing is for certain… Derek Murrell – the “driven” student from Lake Mary who has known for a very long time exactly what he’s wanted to do – will probably have a hand in designing the cars that the rest of us will be driving in the future.

Seminole State College Alumni Association: The Seminole State College Alumni Association provides benefits and services for alumni as they continue their lifelong connection with Seminole State College of Florida, providing opportunities for them to network with one another, interact with the student body and support the College. To learn more, visit the Alumni Association website.

Derek Murrell displays his work at the Cleveland Auto Show in March 2017.

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