Alumni Spotlight: Karla Santi (’98)

A 1998 Morningside graduate, Karla (Engbard) Santi is a founding partner and CEO of Blend Interactive, a website design and development company founded in 2005 in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Santi also has two other Morningside graduates working for her company. As Interactive Designers, Sam Otis (2001) and Weston Burkhardt (2014) put their Graphic Design and Computer Science majors to use as they focus on design, accessibility, and front-end web development.

Santi is married Jayson Santi, a 1996 Morningside graduate, and they have two children.

Santi said she was originally drawn to Morningside because it was one of the few schools with a proper computer lab for graphic design students.

“At the time, I was also considering both private and public colleges in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but it was this small, private college in Iowa that proved to be cutting edge,” she said.

She majored in graphic design and minored in business at Morningside, participating in Student Government, Alpha Lambda Delta, Creative Edge Ad Club, and the American Advertising Federation’s National Student Advertising Competition and Alpha Delta Sigma Honor Society.

She played on the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II women’s tennis team, where she still holds several school records.

Santi said her favorite thing about Morningside was the people.

“Professors cared about my academic success, and their advice (or rules) shaped how I tackle projects and deadlines today in my role as CEO,” she said. “The friends I made at Morningside also played an important part in my career path. My roommate, Sarah, lined up my internship, which turned into a career in web design and development. I remember many late nights in the computer lab working alongside my fellow graphic design classmates, many of which have gone on to be very successful in their careers as well.”

In addition to running a business, Santi serves on the board of directors for the Zeal Center for Entrepreneurship and the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. She is a mentor through EmBe’s Women’s Leadership Program and has a passion for encouraging young women to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and math. She also takes part in a weekly tennis league and even finds time for a ballet class.

Her advice for students was to learn not just from your major but from your entire college experience.

“Some of the most valuable takeaways from college aren’t always related to your degree,” she said. “When I see job applicants with four-year degrees, that tells me they can commit to a process of rigorous, structured work. It’s in these years of independence where you learn how to prioritize tasks, set expectations and communicate with others – all while making mistakes along the way. The experience and relationships you form while earning your degree are equally as important to the subject matter of your major.”

Her advice for young alumni was don’t be afraid to get started.

“It’s advice that I’ve been given and have to work on every day: ‘Don’t wait for perfection to start something.’ If we wait for perfection, it will never happen. Start something and refine as you go. It’s difficult advice for us perfectionists out there, but even with time, nothing is ever perfect.”

 

Published in: on May 2, 2018 at 10:32 AM Comments (0)


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