Winning Design Chosen in Annual Greeting Card Contest

A student in a white shirt stands by a large image of his greeting card illustation, flanked by men wearing UAlbany shirts with snowflack designs
Theodore Efstathiadis poses with his illustration for the Winter Card Contest with Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Christakis, left, and President Havidán Rodríguez. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

By Margaret Hartley

ALBANY, N.Y. (Dec. 6, 2022) — An illustration featuring Damien and a friend walking up to the snow-covered Podium won first prize in this year’s Winter Greeting Card contest.

Illustration of a snowy Podium shows the back of a person in a scarf and hat walking a Great Dane, who has stopped and turned toward the front
Illustration by Theodore Efstathiadis

Theodore Efstathiadis, a junior accounting and business administration major from Troy, drew the winning design, which was unveiled at a ceremony in the Campus Center this morning featuring breakfast treats and a hot cocoa bar. The a capella student group Pitch Please entertained with holiday music.

“You have all worked so hard since August,” President Havidán Rodríguez told the gathered crowd. “Now that classes are over and the holidays are nearly upon us I hope you will be able to relax and take the time for some self-care. You certainly earned it.”

Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Christakis presented the three finalists and their designs.

Efstathiadis said he wanted to capture UAlbany’s distinctive architecture in his illustration. “I’ve always been fascinated by the symmetrical design of the Podium and the prominent colonnades holding up the concrete structure. I found it important to also include the diverse, inclusive and accessible environment cultivated by our school and student body,” he said, explaining his choices for the people he drew walking along the Podium.

As for the Great Dane in the forefront of his drawing, Efstathiadis said he was thinking both of school spirit and the characteristics of these gentle giants:  strength, courage and loyalty. “I believe that these are the traits instilled in the UAlbany community, and I wanted to include our cherished mascot because I think we all can relate to Damien in some way,” he said.

​ illustration of a smiling group of people jumping with their arms raised on a snowy night Illustration by Seungyoun Hong
Illustration by Seungyoun Hong

With his winning design, which will be featured on UAlbany’s digital holiday greeting card, Efstathiadis won a $1,000 scholarship.

Winning second place was Seungyoun Hong, a graduate student from Seoul, South Korea, working on her master’s in criminal justice.

“As an international student, I will graduate next spring and return to my home country, so I participated in this contest to make more meaningful memories,” she said, explaining that his illustration — which shows a group of smiling friends jumping for a camera pose on a snowy night — was meant to show joy and hope for the new year after the difficult pandemic years.

“Also, I wanted to portray a harmony of the new Damien mascot and students against the backdrop of the beautiful scenery of our school,” she said. “I hope my drawing makes many people happy.”

Hong won a $650 UAlbany scholarship.

Third place went to Katherine Cajamarca, a sophomore from Astoria with a double major in informatics and psychology.

illustration of a blue bust of a great dane wearing a purple and gold scarf. Above are the words University at Albany
Illustration by Katherine Cajamarca

“For my idea, I thought about what UAlbany students love when they think of Damien,” Cajamarca said, explaining how she decided to make the Campus Center statue the focus of her drawing. “I drew a huge scarf on Damien to show that our love together brings warmth and courage as we enter a chilly season. Our community is what keeps us warm and safe.”

Cajamarca won a $350 UAlbany scholarship for her design.

All three top winners used digital art programs to create their illustrations. A team of judges chose the three finalists from 55 entries — the largest field since the contest began five years ago.