Design Student Teams with Entrepreneurs to Illustrate Impact
Miller Center is helping to cultivate the next generation of change makers by engaging more students in meaningful learning and professional development opportunities with social entrepreneurs.
Through the teamwork of Miller Center’s Senior Director of Mentor Network, Lynne Anderson, and SCU Asst. Art Professor Qiuwen Li, Miller Center recently selected six graphic design students to work as paid interns with the 2022 In-Residence cohort in April. The cohort consisted of 16 alumni enterprises representing some of the most promising leaders directly addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with a focus on women’s economic empowerment, climate resilience, or the intersection of both.
Professor Qiuwen Li explained, “This internship opportunity was an exciting way for our students to get valuable experience. It also helped reinforce their knowledge of responsibility and gave our students the confidence for pursuing creative careers in the future. Learning and applying knowledge in the real world is the best way to prepare our students for jobs in the creative fields. The opportunity that Lynne Anderson and the Miller Center offered helped our students develop skills that they can’t get in a classroom — skills such as communicating, getting feedback, and dealing with deadlines. These are different when students are working directly with a real client than in a design course.”
When Wylie Merritt, Class of 2023, learned of the opportunity to engage with social enterprises from around the world while expanding her professional art portfolio, she jumped at the opportunity. Wylie is a double major in Studio Art and Communication, and hopes to begin her career as a graphic designer after college. Wylie spent the week of the In-Res program working closely with two social enterprises, Awaaz.de from India and Taimba from East Africa.
Awaaz.De is a technology startup that develops mobile solutions for financial organizations to connect with last-mile communities. With over 680,000 users, they provide access to finance for India’s underbanked. CEO Neil Patel asked Wylie to finalize their short pitch deck for the program’s mock investor sessions and help strengthen their long pitch deck for future presentations. “It was a trial-and-error experience in the beginning. We had to get to know each other and build trust. Once he was comfortable with my skills, he gave me the freedom to be creative.”
Wylie also partnered with Taimba, an agri-tech company that works with rural smallholder farmers to deliver fresh produce directly to the traders at below-market prices. Their innovative, data-driven supply chain reduces food waste and has increased farmer income by more than 15%. Wylie worked with CEO Dominique Kavuisya to strengthen their social media presence and finalize marketing pieces. “I connected with Dominique and his team. They allowed me to take the lead on the graphics. It has been such a great experience that they extended my project beyond the In-Res week.”
Awaaz.de and Taimba treated Wylie like a professional and gave her more confidence in her skills, both as a graphic designer and as a businesswoman. The experience validated her academic and career choices. “Working with the social enterprises has been, in a word, affirming. I learned so much from my clients, gaining valuable experience and several portfolio pieces. Most of all, it has affirmed my choice to pursue graphic design as a career. I’m passionate about helping my clients translate their mission and vision to graphics and I can’t wait to continue doing this into my future.”