"Almost immediately, I Googled the Elite 50 and read a bit about some of the 2019 recipients and thought there was no way I would be selected," Anderson said. "Obviously, when I got the email saying I had made the list, I was totally shocked."
A week later, she found out she was a Plater Medallion recipient for her exceptional contributions to the campus and local communities while attending IUPUI.
Anderson graduates this spring with an M.F.A. in visual communication design ("VCD" for short). We spoke with her over email about why design is a vital asset for innovation and creative problem-solving, and how her service-based mentality comes into play.
HERRON: Congratulations on receiving the Plater Medallion! You join an exclusive group of IUPUI honorees, who are committed to making positive social impact through service-learning and civic engagement. What motivates you?
MADISON ANDERSON: I never expected to be selected for this award and I am truly honored! I think my motivation for pursuing this type of work is just the fulfillment each project brings. Being able to help others and be a part of initiatives that go beyond myself is so fulfilling to me.
I was blessed to grow up in a family with a strong community of support, and when I consider all of the teachers, mentors, leaders, and friends I had along the way, I want to offer that same kind of support to others. Reflecting on everything I've been fortunate to be a part of these past few years, it doesn't feel like service to me because each and every project has been so exciting and rewarding.
HERRON: What attracted you to pursue a master's degree in visual communication design?
ANDERSON: During senior year of my undergraduate studies at Herron, I was introduced to the concepts of design research and service design. I had a really great professor (shout out to Helen Sanematsu), who helped spark an interest in this type of design practice.
When I finished my B.F.A. in 2017, I was introduced to Youngbok Hong and given the opportunity to be her research assistant for some projects with the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI. Once the summer was over, Youngbok invited me to work on a project with Eskenazi Health Senior Care.
Being a part of these projects gave me my first real taste of design research. I knew this was the type of design work I wanted to do, but I also felt like I didn't have the full knowledge and skills to be able to work professionally as a design researcher. Thankfully, having established a great relationship with Youngbok, I had a pretty good in-road to a graduate program focused on design research.
Looking back, I am so thankful I made the decision to study in Herron's visual communication design graduate program. It's been an amazing experience.
HERRON: Youngbok nominated you to the Elite 50. How did it feel when you found out you made the list?
ANDERSON: Youngbok has been an incredible mentor to me over the past few years. She has believed in me and pushed me to do things that were outside of my comfort zone. When I was notified that she had nominated me, I thought it was really kind of her. Being able to show Youngbok that email and see her excitement was a cool moment.
I have been given so many opportunities to work on exciting projects with Youngbok and other Herron faculty, so in a way, I feel like the award belongs to a whole group of people.