24 May

Celebrating 5 Years: Kelsey Marotta

We are so appreciative of everything that Kelsey Marotta has accomplished in the past five years, and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate this momentous occasion. 

When we asked Kelsey’s colleagues to describe her, here’s what they had to say. Kelsey is a born leader, an incredible designer, very humble and easygoing, extremely reliable, and a naturally helpful team player.

To commemorate Kelsey and all of her greatness, we interviewed her to create a personalized infographic highlighting what makes her so special! Keep scrolling to learn more.

1. Best part of working at Eleven Peppers Studios?
Truly some of the best human beings to work with.

2. If you were a pepper, which pepper would you be and why?
Habanero—I’m small, but don’t underestimate me, I pack a punch.

3. What is your favorite 11p event?
The safari breakfast at Disney World.

4. What is your favorite present ever received from 11p?
The opportunity to design the 2016 holiday gift with donations to Meals on Wheels.

5. What is your favorite 11p memory?
Casino holiday party—bet it all, lost everything, and had a blast.

6. Name a Pepper you can always lean on for support or advice:
Audra Harvey and Rebecca Popka have been amazing co-collaborators.

7. Name a Pepper whose work or work ethic inspires you:
Ashley Mueller kicks some serious a$$.

8. My spice meter :

  • Complete wimp
  • Will proceed with caution
  • A subtle flame
  • A little sweat never hurt
  • The spicier, the better!

Get to know Kelsey a little bit better…

1. What is your all-time favorite flavor of ice cream?
Peanut Butter Oreo from Bmore Licks.

2. What was your favorite road trip you’ve ever taken?
This past summer my boyfriend and I drove to Cape May, NJ, and stayed at Congress Hall. It was the only opportunity we’d had to travel during the pandemic and it was so much fun to explore the town, eat great beach food and even squeeze in a few early AM runs.

3. What race are you most proud of?
My first race, the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5K, in 2015. It was when I first knew I had found something that was going to take me on a new and very rewarding path.

4. What would you love most about living in a tiny home?
The lack of stuff. I find freedom in minimalism and I value both being able to see and use all of the items that I own.

5. What made you try triathlons in addition to marathons?
I was always fascinated by Ironman triathlons but kept saying I’d consider it “eventually.” After volunteering for a few of their events and having a small part in making other athlete’s dreams come true, I knew I wanted to make it happen for myself.

6. What part of the triathlon do you have to train for the most?
It’s a lot of hours in the pool, on the bike, and running, but by far the mental game is the most important aspect of training. Learning to tackle something big by chipping away at it one piece at a time is a mindset that I continue to practice and reinforce.

7. What is your favorite song that gets you pumped up during a marathon?
AC/DC’s Hells Bells was playing when I jumped in the water for Ironman—when I hear that song I’m immediately transported to the feeling of being stuffed in a wetsuit, nervous and excited for the day to unfold.

8. What do you love most about being a professor at UMD?
Watching it “click” for my students. Critiques can be painstaking, but when a student takes feedback, pushes themselves beyond what they think they’re capable of, and presents a stronger design, it’s a huge pay-off.

9. What is your favorite part about visiting Disney?
The Disney “magic.” I know, I know, it’s not a real thing, but they are so far ahead in their technology, marketing and branding, and creativity, it blows my designer mind. They don’t call it “Imagineering” for nothing!

10. Any secret hobbies or talents?
I’m very involved in music. I grew up playing the flute and singing. Two years ago I took up piano and currently take lessons, along with a wedding singer side hustle.

19 May

Pepper Talk with Christina Cumberland

In this month’s Pepper Talk, we’re getting to know Christina Cumberland. Just a little background before we get started, Christina is a Senior Instructional Designer and has been a Pepper for a little over a year!

1. Do you have any nicknames?
The majority of people just call me Christina but family and close friends call me Chris (I am very particular about who can call me this!). The tiny humans in my life call me Aunt Teeny.

2. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Weekdays: I immediately get up and start getting ready (spoiler alert to my personal superpower). Two days a week I head to boot camp at 5:30 am before coming to work.

Weekends: I usually stay in bed scrolling social media and ask my husband what we’re going to get for breakfast/brunch.

3. What is your favorite thing about working as an instructional designer?
Coming up with creative ideas to effectively share content and then seeing my ideas come to life by our awesome designers.

4. How did you get started in this industry?
Well, I spent 12+ years as a 3rd-grade teacher, library media specialist, and resource teacher in Baltimore County Public Schools. I was stuck in a rut and craving something new and exciting. My favorite thing about my job (my last few years) in public education was professional development/instructional design – that was unfortunately what I got to do the least, day-to-day. My pepper bestie, John Reid, put me in touch with Kristen…and here I am!

5. What are your favorite methods or tools of the trade? What is the worst?
I really enjoy using Storyline 3 and Camtasia for course development. The worst tool, in general, is the one that’s outdated and missing features/capabilities it should have.

6. Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
First, I get as much information as possible about the project from the customer, including necessary content, any vision they may have, timeframe, etc. Then, after some time to process it all, I’m a huge fan of “chicken scratching” out my thoughts and ideas before organizing and storyboarding.

7. What do you draw inspiration from?
Pinterest, Instagram, Etsy, travel, clothing, colleagues, etc. I also find myself googling certain topics or keywords just to see what pops up – that often will spark new ideas!

8. Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no:  I don’t need caffeine to function but I’m not opposed to a coffee, tea, or a soda every once in a while.
Sweet or Savory: Definitely savory.
Favorite Movie: Just Go With It or The Other Woman – I LOVE a good RomCom.
Favorite place to travel: My favorite places usually involve warm temperatures and a beach. I’d love to make it back to Hawaii again one day for another shark dive (image to the right taken by my husband with our GoPro)!
Hobbies: Crafting (making coasters and various things with my Cricut like stickers and tanks/t-shirts), Peloton & Bootcamp classes, traveling/weekend getaways, visiting breweries (I’m a big fan of craft beer), and I’m also known to watch a decent amount of Reality-TV.

9: Okay, admission time…what do you think is the most important best practice when it comes to instructional design?
Find ways to make the content interesting and engaging for learners but don’t overdo it with interactivity/bells and whistles. Sometimes simple and straightforward is the best approach to communicate the information.



Thanks for taking the time to meet Christina. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!


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