Student Designers Use Elephant as Symbol of Tradition

  • July 19th, 2017
Katelyn Roberson won the 2016 Student Design League contest with her T-shirt design.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The elephant can symbolize different things to different people, but for two soon-to-be University of Alabama graduates, the elephant represents tradition.

Hueytown native Katelyn Roberson and Guntersville native McKenna Siebert both chose the elephant as the focal point for their T-shirt designs during the 2016 Student Design League contest.

Roberson, an interior design major in UA’s College of Human Environmental Sciences who graduates in August, won the competition.

Although Roberson won, both designs are now available for purchase online. The designers will receive 10 percent of the revenue and the University will receive 12 percent.

“When I heard I won, I couldn’t believe it,” said Roberson. “It’s a huge blessing and honor.”

Her inspiration took tradition to the next level. She wanted her design to represent not only the elephant as a symbol of tradition at UA but also a desire to protect that symbol.

McKenna Siebert was one of four finalists in the 2016 Student Design League contest.

“My elephant was created with the use of minus signs that symbolize the cause of one less elephant being killed every day,” Roberson said. “I was inspired by Tide for Tusks and wanted a shirt that emphasized how important it was to stop the killing of elephants, as well as represent the ones who have already been lost.”

She plans to donate some of her earnings to Tide for Tusks and save the rest to help her parents pay off her college expenses.

“The fact that my design even got chosen just shocked me, but to have the opportunity to help Tide for Tusks and give money back to the University that has done so much for me, it’s just a cool opportunity to go through,” Roberson said.

Siebert was also inspired by the elephant, but her shirt features an image of elephants on the back that symbolize the guidance of older generations who have attended the University leading the younger ones into being part of the legacy that they will then continue.

“The design was so much better than I imagined,” said Siebert, a fashion retailing major who graduates in December. “When you create something, you’re never 100 percent sure that people are going to like it as much as you like it, but I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from people, so it’s been great.”

While Siebert did not win the competition, her shirt is also available for purchase online, but she needs to sell 288 shirts by Aug. 31 in order for the shirts to be produced.

To order either T-shirt, visit


Kim Eaton, UA media relations, 205-348-8325,

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.