15 Years of Student Experience: LEAP Symposium

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Alex Yee March 1, 2016


AlexYee_600px-475x443-cDesignmatters was the reason I chose to attend ArtCenter. I conducted field research around the world, learned about different cultures, and most importantly, developed a critical eye in problem solving and empathy. Thankfully, opportunities to hone my skills and learn how to help people seemed bountiful as a student, but I remember being so scared of the future. What would a career in social impact entail? How could I break into the social innovation space and make a positive impact?

The Designmatters program taught me how to ask the right questions, how to design for the needs of people, and how to use design thinking to help tackle wicked problems. I was so excited and to put my education into practice in a career, but near the time of my graduation, my professional pathway did not seem very clear. Thankfully, the LEAP Symposium gave me the perfect opportunity to meet and collaborate with thought leaders, educators, designers and practitioners all discussing ways in how to carve a space for designers to have successful careers in social innovation. Each person’s testimony of service to the world gave me hope that it IS possible to sustain a healthy lifestyle while working on issues that may not always yield a high income, but rather yield a priceless plethora of heartwarming rewards. I walked away feeling empowered, energized and determined to follow suit.

©2013 Lucia Loiso for LEAP Symposium Medium res edits-434

Alex Yee, with other Designmatters Concentration students during a Leap Symposium Q&A session.

Needless to say the LEAP Symposium culminated my development as a soon-to-be design graduate and I am so thankful for Mariana and the Designmatters team for their tireless support and drive to build the greatest design and social innovation education program in the world. Now, as a young professional, I am designing products and experiences that strive to empower people to live healthier, more active lives. I am just getting started, and continue to refer back to the inspirational stories of change I witnessed from Designmatters and LEAP to push me forward in all my future endeavors as a designer for social impact.

The LEAP Symposium was held at ArtCenter College of Design in 2013. It brought together 100 national thought leaders, educators, designers and practitioners from business, international development and social enterprise  to address one central issue: the emerging career pathways for designers in the social innovation space.  LEAP 2 will be held in April, 2016 at  MICA: Maryland Institute College of Art. Click here to learn more.


Alex Yee is a product designer at Fitbit inc., and currently resides in San Francisco, CA.  When she is not working, you can find her roaming the entire peninsula; a nomad on a mission to find the most beautiful spaces to wine, dine, sketch, chat and people watch.

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