Q&A with IUPUI Elite 50 honoree Lisa Semidey (M.F.A. Visual Communication Design '17)

This year’s top fifty IUPUI graduate and professional students includes not one, but two Herron School students. In this exclusive mix of leaders is freshly-minted graduate Lisa Semidey, who joins the Elite 50 for her exceptional achievements in and outside the classroom.

“I’m always looking for ways to create solutions that not only stand out but also respond to the needs of users,” says Semidey on her approach to service design.

With a B.S. in graphic design from Syracuse University and after nearly a decade of working in her field, Semidey decided to pursue her master’s at Herron to make an impact on people’s lives. She wanted to apply design to seemingly unrelated fields and address complex problems. And she has done just what she set out to do, distinguishing herself as an engaged graduate student by organizing events for Herron’s AIGA club and raising awareness of Type 1 Diabetes through volunteering with the Indiana chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Semidey shared her insights on using design thinking for healthcare, working on real-world projects with local partners, and what it means to be an Elite 50 honoree in a Q&A below.

HERRON: What sparked your interest in Herron’s graduate VCD program?

LISA SEMIDEY: I was recommended to look into Herron because a friend and colleague saw Pamela Napier speak at a symposium at North Carolina State University a few years ago. I also started looking for schools that had less traditional design programs and more strategic focus to their coursework. What set Herron apart was the emphasis on research and collaboration as a way to shape design.

HERRON: How do you envision using design to address today’s challenges?

SEMIDEY: I’m excited to jump into the realm of healthcare and address the many challenges within that space. Design can contribute to so many opportunities within healthcare like services offered, physical spaces, communication tools and channels, and experiences in general. If I can make people’s medical experiences better, then I’ve successfully done my job.

HERRON: Can you tell us a little about your graduate thesis project? 

SEMIDEY: Type 1 Diabetes was a natural thesis topic for me to pursue because I’ve been living with it for the past 22 years. My daily experience with the condition led me to analyze the difficulties I’ve faced. I was lucky enough to meet a great local community of Type 1s like me, who willingly shared their needs and challenges around low blood sugar episodes in order to craft a solution to the problem. While my personal experience is valuable, the ability to bring in different perspectives through a people-centered process really enriched the outcome. Plus, a fitting coincidence is that I turned in my final thesis documentation on the date of my diagnosis anniversary.

HERRON: What’s next for you after graduation?

SEMIDEY: I plan to relax for a couple of weeks back home in Puerto Rico before returning to Indianapolis where I’ll work with Anthem on their customer experience team. 

HERRON: What is your favorite memory from studying at Herron?

SEMIDEY: My favorite part was having the opportunity to work on projects with so many different local partners. The real-world practical experience was a great space for learning that allowed me to explore different contexts such as healthcare with IU Health and Regenstrief Institute, community development with the Near West community, and collegiate sports with NCAA. 

HERRON: What does being among the IUPUI Elite 50 mean to you?

SEMIDEY: It is such a great honor! I’m glad that the voluntary contributions I made to the local diabetes community and the teaching opportunities I’ve received through Herron could measure up to the other Elite 50 honorees. Everyone’s achievements in the Elite 50 are very much worthy of praise and recognition.