Student Spotlight: Pete Surges

Pete Surges

Pete Surges
Major: Graphic Design

Ever since high school, Pete Surges has been into graphic design.

But he didn’t pursue it as a career. Instead, he worked in the automotive field for 12 years until he was diagnosed with pulmonary embolism.

“This consists of severe blood clotting in my lungs and, due to that, I also had pneumonia and an enlarged heart,” he said. “Being on blood thinners put me at risk, because when working on cars I was always cutting myself. So I was forced to leave the automotive industry.

“I was a bit of confused on what to do as far as a career goes. But after some thought and with advice from my family, I decided why not take the hobby that I love and turn it into a career.”

Surges turned to College of DuPage because he felt it had the best Graphic Design program in the Chicago area. His decision proved to be on target and he has flourished. In 2014, his submission for the Bike the Drive T-shirt competition was selected as the winner, and participants wore that T-shirt during the Chicago race.

Three weeks after earning his associate’s degree and certificates, Surges landed a job at Billet Specialties. The company manufactures wheels and accessories for hot rods, street rods and muscle cars, and it has a child company named B-Forged Wheel that trends toward exotic cars. Surges works in the marketing department as the graphic designer with his boss and mentor, Scott Sandoval.

“Being in the automotive business is my passion, and combining this with my other passion as an artist and designer is amazing,” he said. “I always remember when I was in the Graphic Design program at COD that every time we had a critique, the students were always saying my work belongs in the automotive field. I can only thank John Callegari, David Chu, Brian Blevins, Jean Ruth and all the other instructors for putting me on the right path.”

Surges advises other students to not be afraid of the hard work and to not be intimidated by life’s obstacles.

“The world is full of opportunities. You just have to find the right direction that suits you and go after what you want if you truly want it,” he said. “College of DuPage has given new meaning to my life and what I stand for as a person and a student. The teachers in the program helped me set goals and pushed me to meet them over the years, and I can only express that I have never been happier with my life.”

More about the Graphic Design program