Emily Lin, who is graduating this spring with a B.A. in Experience Architecture, is this year’s recipient of the College of Arts & Letters Outstanding Senior Achievement Award, which annually recognizes a graduating senior for academic excellence, service and leadership, and a commitment to personal and professional development, cross-cultural sensitivity, and diversity. Lin also is a 2022 recipient of the Experience Architecture (XA) Outstanding Senior Award presented by the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures.
“I am honored to be recognized for the work I have contributed during my time at MSU,” Lin said. “I also am deeply humbled by the people who supported me during my application process and undergraduate journey. The professors in the College of Arts & Letters have been my greatest mentors and the passion of my classmates is extremely inspiring. Having met so many caring and passionate individuals, I am truly thankful to have been a part of this college.”
Lin is the Lead User Experience (UX) Designer and Engineer Intern for The Cube at MSU, where she has worked on more than 10 projects. One project, the Detroit Accessibility Project (DAP), aims to help people in the metro Detroit area find accessible spaces for themselves and their families through the creation of a database, website, and mobile app. As part of this project, Lin conducted user research and testing, preliminary designs, and outreach and engagement. She also presented aspects of the project at this year’s University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF).
“What most sets Emily apart is her deep commitment to and sustained interest in the connections between research, design, and accessibility, and her work on DAP has proven that once again,” said Kate Birdsall, Associate Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures (WRAC) and Director of The Cube. “I cannot imagine that The Cube would be where it is today, with its multiple ongoing projects and a staff of 25, without Emily.”
“The professors in the College of Arts & Letters have been my greatest mentors and the passion of my classmates extremely inspiring. Having met so many caring and passionate individuals, I am truly thankful to have been a part of this college.”Emily Lin
Lin’s work on DAP is one of many UX design projects she has worked on with The Cube. She built a website to examine issues of mental health in East Lansing Public Schools and designed COVID-19 masks branded for Michigan State University’s Information Technology program. She also was selected for the 2021 Samsara BBIPOC Design Fund program where she was given a stipend for her commitment to improving the representation of BIPOC communities in design at MSU.
“Highlights of my time at MSU begin with the realization that ‘it’s actually part of our job to care about people?’ Attending my first classes and seeing empathy and ethics detailed inside the course schedule was groundbreaking,” Lin said. “I remember being moved by Zach Kaiser [Associate Professor in the Department of Art, Art History, and Design] explaining why design can be destructive, and Liza Potts [Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures] dedicating time to talk about the news at the start of each class. These experiences truly pushed me to think about the impact of all my contributions.”
Outside of her work for The Cube, Lin also was a Product Intern for WillowTree, where she worked with well-known companies like HomeGoods and Sling to analyze user interviews, complete spreadsheet data analyses, screening, and user research. She also developed a proposal for AfterHours, an app that helps freshman students address their questions and concerns as they transition to college life.
“Working alongside full-time researchers and designers with big-name companies like Sling and HomeGoods helped me understand how my skills fit in the context of the tech industry,” said Lin who has accepted a full-time job offer as an Associate Product Strategist at WillowTree and will move to Virginia in August.
Within her Experience Architecture major, the principle of accessibility guides each project Lin works on. She also was involved with the Accessibility Internet Rally, which allowed her to lead a team of four people through a six-week website accessibility redesign for the egalitarian synagogue Shaare Tefila.
Lin also worked with Hee Rin Lee, Assistant Professor of Media and Information, on two separate projects, UX Research for Caregivers and Dementia Dyads Research, which both address healthcare and caregiving concerns. Lin’s assistance on the UX Research for Caregivers project bolstered the submission of this research to the 2021 Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing and she is listed as a co-author for the cancer caregiver study publication.
“As a student in the Experience Architecture program, Emily has provided consistent and guiding leadership for her fellow students in the major and across campus,” said WRAC faculty members Christina Boyles, Liza Potts, and Casey McArdle in their nomination letter for the College of Arts & Letters Outstanding Senior Achievement Award. “She is dedicated to helping students find their individual areas of strength through leadership and support.”
“Emily is the rare student who is willing to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes, all while infusing infectious joy to conversations, meetings, and entire projects. I have no doubt whatsoever that she will go on to do great things as a College of Arts & Letters alumna.”Kate Birdsall, Associate Professor and Director of the Cube
Lin has seized various opportunities to grow professionally outside of the classroom as well, which is exemplified by her participation in a week-long study away to Silicon Valley, where she learned about accessibility from professionals in the industry. She also participated in the Teach Access Study Away competition, where she collaborated with a team of four to design a set of guidelines for an unexplored area of digital accessibility. Lin and her team ended up winning the Bronze Design Award for developing a set of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for mental health conditions.
“Emily is the rare student who is willing to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes, all while infusing infectious joy to conversations, meetings, and entire projects,” Birdsall said. “I have no doubt whatsoever that she will go on to do great things as a College of Arts & Letters alumna.”