Western Washington University Alumni Association

Anonymous

Major - Industrial Design
Hometown - Bellingham, WA

“Receiving this scholarship will help me finish my education at Western, where I will continue to develop as a designer and as a person.”

I heard about this scholarship when I got an email about it. I decided to apply, even though I thought it was unlikely I would win. I was on a writing roll, sending out numerous internship applications early this year. For one question, I dusted off an essay I’d written for English 101 in my community college about five years ago about my homeschool experience.

Between applying for this scholarship and receiving it, I now have much more leadership experience because of a group project in my spring industrial design class. We started with the prompt of “helping the people who help people” using some form of augmented reality. My team designed concepts for an app that would let speech therapists assign homework exercises to their clients. A huge problem in speech therapy is that the people receiving it need accurate feedback while practicing, since they often cannot tell if they are getting things right or not, and if they try to work alone too soon, they may give themselves incorrect feedback, actually reversing progress. Our app concept would use a phone or tablet camera along with advanced speech recognition to give clients feedback as they practice. While the team had no officially assigned leader, the role largely fell to me, especially when we produced a five-minute video to demonstrate our concept. We had to come up with a compelling narrative and storyboard, and then plan how we would turn that idea into a video. I was director of our little film on the single (very long, very intense) day of shooting. The experience had me learning on the fly about wrangling volunteer actors of varying levels of experience and their disparate schedules, and working with a professional filmmaker who volunteered as our director of photography and cinematography coach. In postproduction, I was the lead animator, working closely with a teammate who did most of the editing and put music to the video. Altogether it was a huge project and a true team effort—a truly excellent learning experience.

There’s quite a bit less money I’ll have to come up with to pay for my senior industrial design project. Students will typically spend $1000-$4000 manufacturing this project, which is usually some form of furniture, designed and then built full scale. I won’t be given this year's prompt until sometime this fall. The Alumni Association Scholarship and one other I received through my department mean I should be able to count on just paying regular tuition without a couple thousand extra for the senior project.

I wrote more extensively about various experiences which have changed my life in sections of my application for the Alumni Association Scholarship, namely, my experience of being homeschooled, my time so far in Western’s Industrial Design program; and in the section below on what I do outside of school: making posable creature dolls.

I sculpt one of a kind posable fantasy creatures from polymer clay, faux fur, wire, quilt batting, and acrylic paint. I sell them online in my Etsy store, CMWyvern. These creatures are a passion of mine. Some of the problem-solving I had to do (and am still improving on) to figure out how to build these creatures comes from the same place in me as the problem solving I do in my design classes. I see myself getting better and better at art as I learn more of how to think as a designer—paying attention to form and material in a way I did not know before.

Other things I do outside of school include other creative ventures such as sewing some of my own clothing and blues fusion dancing.

 

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