“Once a fellow, always a fellow,” is the mantra of Titan alumni Yumi Liang ’18 (B.A. international business-global trade), Vanessa Ganaden ’18 (B.A. business administration-entrepreneurship and marketing) and Lorenzo Santos ’17 (B.A. communications-advertising).
As students at Cal State Fullerton, the three were named University Innovation Fellows and were charged with embedding innovation in the campus community. Today, they remain committed to supporting Titan innovation and bringing “design thinking” to everything they do.
“UIF embraces and teaches design thinking, which is a process for solving problems in a user-focused way,” explains faculty adviser John Bradley Jackson, director of CSUF’s Center for Entrepreneurship and lecturer in management. “When done properly, the solutions are simply better. This way of thinking is applicable on campus, at work and in life in general.”
Most recently, Liang, Ganaden and Santos were chosen from a pool of more than 1,800 high-achieving fellows across the globe to serve as event leaders at the annual UIF Silicon Valley Meetup. The trio welcomed the opportunity to share their innovation experiences with the crowd of 350 students and faculty from 96 higher education institutions in 15 countries.
Santos told the audience that they are ready to be changemakers; they just need to decide what they need to do, do it, and adjust as needed.
Ganaden advised, “It’s hard to create an impact in a community on your own. Find a group of people who can support you and challenge you to become a better version of yourself. UIF has been that group for me.”
As students at CSUF, the trio established and built programs and organizations such as the Student Innovation Collective, a club committed to creating new solutions to a variety of problems using design thinking. For example, the club created a portable, lightweight, collapsible bed intended to improve the quality of sleep for the homeless community at the Santa Ana riverbed.
They also spread the concept of design thinking to faculty and campus organizations through speeches and workshops.
As alumni, Ganaden, Liang and Santos have switched to advisory roles, leading workshops in entrepreneurship classes, guiding new leaders of the Student Innovation Collective and mentoring the 2018-19 University Innovation Fellows.
One of these is William Kim, a senior majoring in biological science, who is striving to increase innovation and entrepreneurship through a bioengineering competition for high school and undergraduate students. Having run design competitions in the past, Liang is providing guidance on his endeavor.
The 2018-19 fellows also include Phillip Law, a senior in business administration-finance, and Karen Kaur, a junior in business administration. They want to continue holding faculty workshops on design thinking, and they are tackling student engagement on campus, hoping to increase school spirit.
The University Innovation Fellows program is a global program run by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design that empowers students to be changemakers on their campus and embed innovation in the campus community.
For more information on the program at CSUF, including application details, contact John Jackson at 657-278-8413.