Chinese Student At U.S. Christian College Lands Design Internship, Experiences Business World

Wednesday, May 17 2023 by Marielle Payton/Richard D. Hunt

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Claire Xu, visual communication design student from Qinqdao, China,
Cedarville University
Claire Xu, visual communication design student from Qinqdao, China,

Cedarville University alumni seem to find each other in the professional world, and a current student’s summer internship is no exception. Claire Xu, a visual communication design student from Qinqdao, China, accepted an internship with Daor Design — founded and run by Sarah Harkleroad, a 2006 Cedarville alum — helping small businesses across the country build their brands and grow their businesses with tailored digital marketing strategies.

Daor Design, a graphic design firm based in San Antonio, Texas, has a diverse team of designers, developers, writers, and strategists, half of which are Cedarville alumni. Xu will be joining the team as their first intern. 

“My favorite part of the internship is how everyone is so helpful,” said Xu. “I’m going through training currently, and since it’s a small team, it doesn’t feel intimidating to reach out to anyone. I’ve really enjoyed shadowing graphic designers, copywriters, web designers, and social media managers.” 

Harkleroad, who graduated with a double major in both visual communication design and studio art, is excited to have Xu come on board and join the design firm.

“We love Cedarville here at Daor Design,” commented Harkleroad, who had been looking for an opportunity to bring a current Cedarville design student on board and invest in them as Cedarville had invested in her. “We know the school has great values, excellent faculty, and extremely talented students. Many of our team graduated from Cedarville University, so we’ll always have a soft spot for other Cedarville alumni.”

Finding an intern that was a Cedarville student was important to Harkleroad, who was in the first graduating class in the visual communication design and studio art fields at Cedarville. Harkleroad wants to help current students like Xu to find career opportunities in the field of visual communication. 

“I was really struggling to find an internship because, as a student, we need internship credits to graduate,” said Xu. “I connected with my advisor and professor, Aaron Huffman, MFA, who said I should check out Daor Design.” 

The connection between Huffman and Harkleroad developed while they both attended Cedarville and were classmates during their time on campus.  When Harkleroad saw Huffman’s recommendation, she was immediately interested. After the firm had a chance to review Xu’s portfolio and interview her, they decided to add her to their team as their first intern.

Harkleroad’s company focuses on logo design, website design, and marketing for small businesses across the United States.

“We pride ourselves on doing comprehensive brand management,” said Harkleroad, who co-founded Daor Design with her husband, Paul, 12 years ago. Since its inception, Daor Design has helped over 500 small businesses across the country build their brands.

Some of the skills Xu will learn at Daor Design include website design, UI/UX auditing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, logo design and more. Xu works part-time remotely with Daor Design as she finishes her academic school year and plans to continue working through the summer. 

“I’m learning so much already,” said Xu, who is excited to be working with the design firm. “Sarah really encourages me to discover what I’m passionate about. In her, I’ve gained not just a boss but a friend.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 5,082 undergraduate, graduate, and dual-enrolled high school students in more than 175 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the department of history and government as well as high graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings. Cedarville has been ranked #4 nationally by the Wall Street Journal for student engagement. For more information about the University, visit

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