One way to be a world-class storyteller? Visualize it.

Graphic design major shapes impressive portfolio as National Geographic intern

Trees that traveled to space now live on Earth, and SUNY New Paltz student Tania Velin ’20 (Graphic Design) knows exactly where to find them.

During a 10-week internship at National Geographic Magazine in Washington, D.C., Velin worked as part of a team of designers on a number of significant visualization projects, including a digital map displaying the location of “moon trees,” grown from seeds that accompanied astronaut Stuart Roosa on his 1971 Apollo 14 mission to our lunar neighbor.

“My internship included web illustrations, data visualizations, animations, a marketing presentation and more,” she said. “I learned so much: about design and storytelling; about our world and how to take better care of it; and about how a degree in design makes it possible to have an impact in a real, professional environment.”

Velin was hired from a pool of more than 200 applicants for the internship. She was encouraged to apply by Assistant Professor of Graphic Design Joshua Korenblat, himself a former designer at National Geographic Magazine.


Copyright National Geographic, 2019


“As a student in my data visualization class, Tania’s commitment to the craft of communicating a message was quite evident, and I thought she was uniquely positioned to work with both conceptual and data-driven content to make complex ideas more vivid and shareable,” said Korenblat. “I knew that she could help support National Geographic’s purpose in making compelling graphics, and I also knew that she had the collaborative capabilities to work as part of a team.”

Velin’s passion for designing, drawing and inventing started at a young age in her hometown of New Hyde Park, New York. She began to experiment with digital painting, illustration and photography in high school, and has continued her search for creative solutions to communication challenges her studies at New Paltz. ​​​​​​​

“Graphic design is hugely important in making things accessible to various audiences,” said Velin. “The projects and classroom work I’ve been a part of here have allowed me to really explore different ways of communicating.”


In 2018, Velin was awarded the Tamah and Warren Wiegand Travel Scholarship, which allowed her to travel to Cuba with 10 fellow graphic design students from New Paltz. The creative team spent two weeks working on a collaborative project with design students at El Instituto Superior de Diseño, in Havana, Cuba. Learn more about funding for scholarships and experiential learning at Soaring Higher – The Campaign for SUNY New Paltz.


“My experiences abroad and on campus helped prepare me for my internship at National Geographic,” said Velin. “The diversity of the staff, the location and NatGeo’s influential Instagram page were eye-openers for me.”

Velin will graduate in spring 2020 and plans to pursue a career in digital design. View her portfolio online.

Visit the Graphic Design Program to learn more about creative opportunities for future visual artists at SUNY New Paltz.