CCS Alumni Council President Antone Amye (AD ’00) Reflects on CCS Alumni Community

November 8, 2022
Antone Amye standing outdoors near a body of water and mountain in the distance

When Antone Amye spoke at last year’s winter commencement, he welcomed graduates to the next chapter of their lives as part of the global CCS alumni community.

It was a full-circle moment for the member of the class of 2000 and current Alumni Council president. 

“Graduating from CCS was a big deal,” recalls Amye, senior design editor at The Detroit News. “That’s why I’m so devoted to the school — because it’s where I came from.”

But even the guy with a license plate personalized with “CCS” never imagined he’d one day be elected president of the Alumni Council. During his term, which lasts through August 2024, his goal is to further CCS so they can realize the same benefits he has. “People need that sense of community,” he says.

Amye admits that an art school faces some unique challenges in bolstering alumni pride and bringing graduates together on a regular basis.

“It’s not like we have a football team, but I think there’s a different way we can share our school — by going to events,” he says. “That’s why the Alumni Council is so important.”

The sole purpose of the Alumni Council is to represent the interests of CCS’s current 11,287 alumni through policies to promote them and their work. As president, Amye serves as a voice for his peers, along with the council’s 15 other members, and works directly with Dr. Don Tuski, CCS president, on alumni-related initiatives. 

During the pandemic, the Alumni Council outlined a new strategy and expanded alumni offerings to include a lecture during Detroit’s Month of Design and the CCS Alumni Lounge event during Eastern Market After Dark. The council also hosts an alumni reception at Noel Night, recommends scholarship recipients for the Alumni Endowed Scholarship, produces the annual alumni exhibition, and recognizes creative leaders with the Distinguished Alumni Award. 

Still, Amye believes the council has more work to do. “As president, I want to build on what past presidents have worked tirelessly on,” he says. “Fellow alumni need to know who we are, what we do, how we benefit them, and that the council advocates for them.”

Increasing marketing efforts will be key to not only building awareness of the council, but also to raising attendance at events. Although Amye likes to joke that the promise of free wine and cheese may have influenced his own participation at receptions, he was driven to stay involved with CCS because his education required such a significant financial investment.

Coincidentally, he met a former Alumni Council president at a reception, and she encouraged him to apply to join the council. He did and then went on to serve as vice president before taking the helm in August.

Amye has always been quick to give back to CCS through his time, whether it’s working the alumni art show and student exhibition, or sharing what led him to CCS with potential students at the school’s booth at the North American International Auto Show. He hopes his own experience as a student from Redford High School in northwest Detroit who never thought attending CCS was an option will inspire others to follow his path.

“That’s what drives me now in trying to give back,” says Amye, who’s especially committed to engaging high school students who lack opportunities and to fighting for diversity and inclusion at CCS. “I’m 47, and I still remember the times when somebody took an interest in me. We don’t know what we want as kids. Sometimes you need somebody to say, ‘Hey!’ and then you can figure it out yourself.”

For Amye, that first “somebody” was a high school art teacher who encouraged his passion for the arts, which led him to apply for a vocational program focusing on commercial art his junior and senior years. That program led to an internship at the Detroit Children’s Museum, where his supervisor encouraged him to apply to College for Creative Studies.

He was still a student at CCS when he became an ad and layout designer at The Detroit Newspaper Agency. His first supervisor at the newspaper supported him in completing his degree in advertising, which he did, part-time, for over eight years. Taking classes while working full time proved to be a hand-in-glove experience — Amye was able to apply not only the skills he learned from CCS professors in real-time, but also the ability to receive feedback in order to grow as an artist. 

Throughout his career, he’s felt the impact of the latter almost daily, whether he’s accepting feedback on a front page or the special section he designed to celebrate Aretha Franklin’s legacy after she passed away; editing the work of the designers under him, as his role now requires; or serving as the visual arts judge for The Detroit News’ Outstanding Graduates program.

“Critiques — don’t really care for them,” he laughs. “But they’ve helped me tremendously.”

But his key volunteer role at the student exhibition, in particular, has been personally beneficial. Not only does seeing current CCS students’ works continue to inspire him, but he’s also built connections with those he’s worked alongside — other alums he’s now able to resource for council activities like panel discussions — or helped add student artwork to their collections.

Essentially, all these experiences connect to the main point he tried to emphasize for last winter’s graduates and have culminated in his role as Alumni Council president.

“This is a community,” Amye said. “Have pride in our school — it means a lot.”