I’m a product manager at Adobe thinking about the future of work and a avid volunteer at Miracle Messages thinking about how we can end relational poverty. I graduated from Minerva University with a double major in Business (Brand Management) and Social Sciences (Designing Societies). To date, I have studied and lived in San Francisco, Seoul, Hyderabad, Berlin, London, Ann Arbor, and Toronto.
MY PERSONAL MISSION STATEMENT
To design systems and services that are more sustainable and human-centered in order to help communities effectively achieve social change.
Part I: Growing up with a shielded perspective
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Toronto, Canada in a town called Markham where all that mattered was getting good grades and finding a good boba shop. I was in a safe suburban bubble. Growing up, going to"the city" was exciting - I loved the hustle and bustle of people running errands, the sound of live music from what seemed like constant festivals, and the taste of foods from around the world. My family would explore the districts of downtown Toronto on the weekends and it was fascinating to see how different areas of the city could be so, well, different. I was intrigued by different walks of life all within one city. This is how I got interested in urbanism. Yet, I now realize I only saw the selective parts of the city which my parents wanted me to see, giving me a very optimistic perspective of urban living.
Part II: Arriving in San Francisco
Minerva is a new liberal arts university seeking to redefine higher education and create a community of 21st century leaders through global immersion in seven cities over four years. A large part of why I decided to go to Minerva Schools at KGI was to get out of my comfort zone, burst the safe suburban bubble, and explore what cities really were like around the world - it was a chance to see the world from a new perspective.
"You can't change the world if you haven't seen the world."
As I was flying to San Francisco for my first year, I carried this utopic image of a high-tech, Silicon Valley, next-level kind of city. However, when I arrived at the residence hall, what I saw was far from that - needles on the ground, feces on the streets, the sound of constant traffic, and this perpetual stench of wet dirt. Turns out, the residence hall was situated right at mid-Market Street right below the Tenderloin and beside the Civic Centre. For those unfamiliar with SF neighborhoods, this area is home to those living in extreme poverty and people experiencing homelessness. But, the thing that astounded me most was the contrast of life between a couple of city blocks. A couple blocks east, you would be in the financial district with tech start-ups and the massive Salesforce tower. A couple blocks west, you would be on your way to the Castro district - a place of rainbows, eccentric characters, and amazing milkshakes. It was in San Francisco where I experienced what it was really like living a city - the good and the bad.
I was quite disturbed by just how bad chronic homelessness was in SF and decided to learn more by participating in 1:1 chats with a senior in the Tenderloin district as part of a loneliness intervention program at the Global Brain Health Institute. This is how I became interested in the intersection between urbanism and social impact.
Part III: Exploring the world
The following summer, I had the amazing opportunity to intern at the San Francisco Transportation Agency (SFMTA) as a student design intern in the finance department. Being able to experience from the inside how city transportation services operated got me wondering about city services in general, and just how much impact even a small change in service has on the multitude of people served. This is how I became interested in service design.
As I travelled each semester to a different city, I was able to see what urban life was like in multiple settings and got to work with global companies in many different industries. In Seoul, I was bringing together the local community to design a shared rooftop space with Urban Society. In Hyderabad, I was growing the number of connections between volunteers and non-profits at an online-volunteering platform called Chezuba. In Berlin, I was working with Miracle Messages to solve relational poverty by helping launch and assess their Miracle Friends service (1:1 weekly phone calls between an unhoused friend and a volunteer).
While the projects I've worked on may seem quite different from each other, they all centre on improving human connection and building community. None of the above projects could be accomplished alone. This is why my mission statement focuses on helping COMMUNITIES - because it takes a community of people to achieve social change.
A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
Part IV: My Mission
Now, as a recent graduate, I am excited to combine my academic studies of brand management, politics, and economics, with my global experience to bring a unique perspective to this field.
I hope to leverage this perspective to design systems and services that are more sustainable and human-centered in order to help communities effectively achieve social change.