VU student designs Indiana’s new First Responder license plate

VU student designs Indiana’s new First Responder license plate

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January 02, 2019

January 2, 2019 / VU student designs Indiana’s new First Responder license plate
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VINCENNES, Ind. - As of January 1, Hoosiers may purchase a newly redesigned First Responder license plate. The design, which prominently recognizes the importance of public safety officials in “Saving Lives,” was created by Vincennes University student Dartanyan “Dart” Abney of Walton, Indiana. Abney is a 2016 graduate of Lewis Cass High School and is majoring in Occupational Graphic Design at VU.

The design and selection process began in Spring 2018 when Brian Langley, executive director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, spoke with Lou Caprino, chair of VU’s Homeland Security program, to see if VU students would be interested in designing an Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles license plate to honor and recognize Indiana’s first responder community.

Working with Karen O’Connor, assistant professor of pharmacy technology, and Ron Wise, assistant professor of graphic design, the graphic art students rose to the challenge and created various prototype license plates for the BMV's review. Abney’s design was selected.

Abney submitted several different designs, finding inspiration in the fact that divisions of first responders are represented by specific colors. “I did a lot of research and found out they have a thin red line, a thin orange line, a thin green line,” Abney said. Through the use of those colors, and unique division emblems, Abney is pleased that the plate “recognizes all first responders.”

Abney has been doing design work for the past seven years with Gifts and Gadgets of Kokomo, Indiana. He also spent a semester serving as a design intern with the VU Marketing Department.

At VU he also works as an assistant residence hall coordinator and does graphic work for VU student clubs as well as individual programs such as Eta Sigma Iota, the Campus Activity Board, and the Humanities Film and Lecture Series. Abney has also been a finalist in the VU design contest in both 2017 and 2018.

Upon his spring 2019 graduation from VU, Abney plans to work in the field of brand identification development. He has his own t-shirt brand known as Promised Land apparel. His work can be found at or Facebook and Instagram @PromisedLand1776.

According to the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, revenue from First Responder license plate sales will fund the IDHS Foundation. One of the first of its kind in the nation, the Foundation offers financial support for critical public safety needs across Indiana. Information is available at


The Foundation funds public safety projects at the local level. Local public safety organizations are eligible to apply for projects such as equipping emergency responders with personal protective equipment, acquiring equipment for use by emergency responders, and training for emergency responders.

In order to promote the importance of careers in public safety, the Foundation recently established the Secure Indiana Scholarship Program for Indiana residents. Eligible applicants are students interested in pursuing a higher education degree and volunteer with a local public safety organization. Hoosier Safety Scholarships at $2,000 for full-time students and $1,000 for part-time students can be awarded to applicants enrolled in an accredited Indiana college.


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