IUPUI recognizes 50 graduate and professional students each year for their achievements in areas such as campus leadership, scholarly work, and community engagement.
The Elite 50 are the best of the best, embodying everything that distinguishes our campus. This year's honorees include Luis Garcia and Leena Dobouni, both of whom will graduate this spring. We are very proud of them and will feature their work in Q&As.
Today we learn about Luis Garcia, a graduate student in Herron's visual communication design program and a Fulbright Scholar from Ecuador whose work focuses on human-centered design.
HERRON: How did you react when you learned you had been named to the 2021 Elite 50 list?
LUIS GARCIA: I was surprised! Needless to say, 2020 was an extremely challenging year, and 2021 has been no exception. When I learned that IUPUI included me in the Elite 50 list, I felt it was a nice reminder that I have something to offer and that I am moving forward regardless of the circumstances. Also, it was a great feeling to be on the same list as so many outstanding students, some of whom are friends from other disciplines whom I admire a lot.
HERRON: What is the driving force behind your work?
GARCIA: A true motivation to learn. When I came here, I was genuinely motivated to use every opportunity to learn, make mistakes, and deliver the best possible work. I like to see my work as an ongoing learning process that I hope to continue in the future, wherever that may be.
HERRON: How has the Fulbright Scholar Program helped you expand your knowledge in human-centered design?
GARCIA: The Fulbright experience has certainly been the most enjoyable part of my journey in the U.S. Meeting people from all over the world and from so many different disciplines and universities has been phenomenal. Also, having met people with varying ways of seeing and understanding the world (even when I disagreed with some) has helped me grow as a person, and it is something I will keep in mind for my professional and academic practice.
HERRON: How has human-centered design influenced your approach to achieving meaningful change?
GARCIA: Human-centered design is a way of building a better world if it is carried out with responsibility and a willingness to hear and work with those affected by today's problems. However, I think it is also important to consider that human-centered design also raises additional tensions because any design intervention creates other issues or affects other beings in our world.
Perhaps what I am most grateful for over the last few years is that I have engaged with other design communities, practitioners, and academics that have challenged my understanding of design and made me recognize that not everything we do is always positive. If I ever achieve meaningful change, I believe it will come from working with and for those who need it and promoting ongoing efforts rather than isolated, one-time design solutions.
HERRON: What has been your most rewarding design project to date, and how has it impacted your graduate experience?
GARCIA: My cohort worked on two major projects. During the first year, we aimed to understand people's experiences in public spaces in order to contribute to Indianapolis' ongoing efforts to build a world-class city. And, in the second year, we engaged with different stakeholders to determine how we could help increase public interest in health and wellness.