Innovation After Graduation: DFA Alumni

  • Innovation After Graduation: DFA Alumni
  • Students join Design for America because of the desire to design for social impact. This compulsion doesn’t end after graduation, and their legacy in DFA doesn’t either. After graduation, these 1,700+ alumni remain solidly rooted in DFA — regardless of age or location. 

    As diverse in their careers as they were in their majors, DFA alumni are engineers, architects, consultants, non-profit directors, software developers, designers, editors, and teachers. There is even a professional squash player and a state representative in the mix. Find them at Apple, Microsoft, SpaceX, and Tesla; in governments, universities, youth theaters, and think tanks. Wherever they go, DFA alumni bring their unique DFA experiences, empathetic mindsets, and teamwork skills.

    DFA provides opportunities to keep developing alumni skills and passions while simultaneously establishing themselves as this generation of social innovators. This looks like panels on applying design in their careers, mentoring established studios, launching studios in their new home, connecting over social media with friends they made at Leadership Studio. This looks like hiring within the network because they know DFAers have the skills to innovate.

    DFA alumni have also gone on to develop DFA-inspired organizations in Taiwan, Pakistan, China, and Canada. DFA helps jumpstart these initiatives with design education resources, connections to other alumni, and advice on creating sustainable programs. The spirit and passion of Design for America spreads across the globe through alumni, reinforces itself from coast to coast and country to country to uplift their communities.
  • “To date, Design For Pakistan has organized seven events, trained more than nine-hundred students from three major universities in Islamabad, engaged more than fifteen mentors 
    from diverse backgrounds, and created multiple volunteering opportunities 
    for young professionals and students.”
    — Ahsaan Rizvi, Founder, Design for Pakistan, DFA Alum

    “I would hire a DFAer for my company sight unseen.”
    — Mert Iseri, Co-founder and CEO, SwipeSense, DFA Alum

    “DFA improved my ability to work with a team. Working on design projects helped me understand that there are multiple ‘right’ ways to accomplish something, and that accepting critical input 
    and new ideas from others ensures the strongest solution.”
    — Emm Fulk, Systems, Synthetic and Physical Biology PhD candidate, Rice University, DFA Alum

    “I bring this design-thinking mindset into my work in local government, from co-creating new business services with women entrepreneurs in NYC to engaging residents on how issues 
    like segregation impact their housing choice and access to opportunity. My experiences 
    in DFA give me the tools to be a better listener and learn from the lived experiences 
    of the communities and populations we serve.”
    — Lulu Mickelson, Fair Housing Engagement Manager, NYC Department of Housing, DFA Alum

    “I was scared to apply for DFA because I thought it was for engineers only, but I learned that they wanted all majors — even comparative literature! I joined and ultimately double majored in design. Now I am able to help people, like my dad, who run small businesses.”
    — Hannah Hudson, Senior Design Strategist, Intuit, DFA Alum