Sarah (Burns) McKeown

Sarah (Burns) McKeown

April 13, 2021

Sarah (Burns) McKeown (2021)

Sarah McKeown works as a graphic designer for a Kansas City-based nonprofit. A native of St. Louis, Sarah graduated from Truman in 2016 with a BFA in Visual Communication and minors in Communication and Photography. She lives in Denver, CO with her husband Jonah and their cat, Patty. In their free time Sarah and Jonah love traveling, hiking, cooking, and watching Parks and Rec.

What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?

I graduated in 2016 as a Visual Communication (now Art: Design) major and had minors in Communication and Photography (now Art Studio).

What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?

I was on the Student Activities Board and in the sorority Sigma Sigma Sigma. I also worked at Detours Magazine and was a student designer in the Publications Office.

Sarah (left) with some of her friends and fellow seniors in Sigma Sigma Sigma (2015).

Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?

Nope – I went straight to work!

What was your first job after graduation?

I was a graphic designer for a nonprofit called the American Theatre Guild in Kansas City.

Sarah (left) on assignment in Bolivia for Unbound with coworkers (2019).

What work do you do/What are you doing now?

I am a graphic designer at a nonprofit called Unbound. It is an international charity that partners with families living in poverty. I also recently launched a small business where I sell my own original art, called Formerbee Design.

How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?

My Communication minor went hand in hand with my Visual Communication major. Having an understanding of the best ways to communicate to an audience helps me make work that is better geared towards them. I also am equipped to explain or present different designs that I’ve created to my colleagues – all those group projects and presentations really paid off!

Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?

Public speaking. Words are hard. It was a harder class than I expected, but the skills I gained were helpful throughout my time in college and beyond.

What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?

Finding true love! My husband is a fellow Truman grad who majored in Communication, and we first met while both working as TAs for one of Dr. Self’s classes (Editor’s note: Tell Jonah I said, “You’re welcome” ).

I think runners up to that were when I finished my senior capstone project for Visual Communication and when I got awarded Outstanding Senior from SAB.

Sarah (3rd from left) with her fellow seniors of the SAB crew and their advisor (2016).

Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?

There are a lot of opportunities to take classes outside of your major that can still enhance skills in your field. There are also many organizations you can join that align with your major or interests and will help to build you into a well-rounded person.

What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?

Take classes outside of your comfort zone and get involved in student media.

Sarah and her husband at the SAB Holiday Lights event (2015).

What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?

Go the extra mile. Not every project requires you to work overtime, but putting in the hours to truly hone your craft rather than skating by from assignment to assignment will help you immensely down the road.

What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?

Being able to see all my friends within a short walking distance.


What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for terministic screens!” (Editor’s note: I.  Love.  It.)

If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?

Combining Puns with your Artwork – There is nothing I enjoy more than the combination of a high quality illustration and well-crafted wordplay!

What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?

The walk to Barnett really isn’t all that bad. (Editor’s note: Thank you!)

Sarah marching during graduation (pre-downpour) (2016).

If you would like to learn more of Sarah’s story, you can see her art on her webpage or Instagram, or see her full protfolio here.


If you want to learn more about the Department of Communication, contact us!