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Alumni: Class Notes

Recognizing the 2020 CLA Honored Alumna, Laura Lawton




"We need more thoughts and ideas from all different people to come into our industry and continue to elevate what we do."

—Laura Lawton


Laura Lawton (Graphic Communication, ’90) was recognized as the 2020 CLA Honored Alumna. Since earning her degree, Lawton has become the owner and president at Lawton Printing Services as the fourth generation in her family to lead the Spokane, Washington, business.

Lawton has worked at the family business for more than 30 years since starting in the screen printing department in high school. As a transfer student to Cal Poly her junior year, Lawton found her place on campus by forging friendships in the Graphic Communication Department while working for University Graphic Systems (UGS) and learning valuable skills for her career. She applied her practical hands-on experience running printing presses when she returned to Lawton Printing Services after college, proving that she was well qualified to run the business, regardless of her family name.

During Lawton’s time studying graphic communication, the department had a majority male faculty and student body. However, demographics have changed dramatically in 40 years to include mostly female students. As one of the few women to be inducted into the printing hall of fame, Lawton is a vital role model for current students beginning their careers. “We need more thoughts and ideas from all different people to come into our industry and continue to elevate what we do,” Lawton said.

Lawton has led her company through many changes, adapting to new technologies and offering a variety of personalized digital printing, offset commercial printing and marketing solutions. She has made sustainability a large priority at Lawson Printing, implementing sustainable printing with Forest Steward Council certification, use of recycled paper and soy-based inks.

In addition to running her business, Lawton is very involved in the printing industry and at Cal Poly. In 2016, she was inducted into the Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame, and she served as chair of Young Print Professionals Group from 2004 to 2016. Lawton has served on more than

10 national printing industries and boards, serving as chair on four. At Cal Poly, Lawton has been a member of the Graphic Communication Advisory Board since 2014, and as of 2021, she serves as chair of the board.


Class Notes 

Share your recent news in the next Impact Magazine.

Robert Tanner (Political Science, ’92) recently served as the lead negotiator for the Telecommunications Services chapter in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Heather Lee (Child Development, ’08) decided to close her bioenergetics office as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and is currently writing a book.

William Thompson (Psychology, ’12) returned to campus to pursue a master’s degree in business administration. During his graduate education, Thompson was introduced to Cal Poly biomedical engineering alumna Sidney Collin and together they co-founded De Oro Devices.

Lauren Castro (Music, ’13) moved to the mountains in Quebec, Canada, where she currently works as the knowledge and content manager for the travel app Hopper.

Jenna Watson Gudgel (Journalism, ’14) recently married longtime friend and Cal Poly engineering alumnus Garrett Gudgel. They now live together in the Bay Area where Watson Gudgel works as the PR and communications manager at In her free time, she is also serving as the 2020 president of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and reflects fondly on her days in the Cal Poly chapter.

Sean Bird (Journalism, ’18) created Everjourney as his senior project in 2018. Since then, Everjourney has grown into a full-fledged philanthropic organization. Everjourney sells apparel and cycling kits to raise money for One Bicycle Foundation, a nonprofit organization that purchases and provides bicycles to an orphanage in Kenya, as well as youth in other developing nations.

Antonio Flamenco (Art and Design, ’18) works as a product designer at Workday. In his free time, Flamenco is also a mentor on the ADPList, helping young designers navigate their careers.

Irebid Gilbert (Master of Public Policy, ’18) created and co-founded Herencia Indigena. The organization trains trilingual individuals to facilitate communication between health care providers and Indigenous communities throughout the Central Coast.

Sierra Hyland (Graphic Communication, ’18) recently competed in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics on the Mexican national softball team.

Molly O’Brien (Journalism, ’18) is working as a freelance writer for
a variety of publications such as The Washington Post, Business Insider, Travel + Leisure, and more. In the past year, she created a series of stories called “The COVID Chronicles,” which feature the resilience of humanity worldwide through personal stories. These stories are collected from around the world, including from people in New Zealand, Japan and South Korea, detailing the struggles that they have overcome during the pandemic.

Cameron Pedretti (Sociology, ’20) is pursuing a Master of Science in Social Research Methods at the London School of Economics.

Annie Margolis (Communication Studies, ’21) is working as an assistant dance coach for the Calabasas Dance Team.

Brandon Roul (Political Science, ’21) is a J.D. candidate at Stanford Law School, and plans to pursue a career in civil rights.

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