When I came to college, the first thing I looked for was a design community. Graphic design had quietly taken over my free time throughout high school, but in my CS curriculum I no longer had an outlet for those skills.
The start of every semester, I would go to the org database on HornsLink and search for “design” (incl. all variations and related terms). I tried a few different orgs but none of them really fit, so I waited…and waited…until one day, it was the start of my junior year and I realized that if I didn’t do it, no one would. So Melody, Pallavi, and I put together a team and started planning out what this org might look like.
DECO started in Spring 2016. It was a crazy first semester; there were a lot of good moments, and also a lot of stressful ones — if it wasn’t for Ed, I probably would’ve cracked under the pressure. That we even made it to the end is a testament to how strong our team was. We learned a lot about what worked and what didn’t, and resolved to make the experience even better the next time around.
In Fall 2016 we added DECO Learn, and in the following spring, DECO Build. I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done on both fronts, not to mention the insanely talented designers in Studio. It’s been awesome seeing yall explore new things and develop your craft…and for some people, start to seriously consider a design career.
Are we there yet? Not a chance. Next semester, we’re redefining what Design Collective is and needs to be. As the university expands its design offerings, we can now focus on our most fundamental goal: building a thriving creative community. I know I said it was the last time last time, but design is iterative — we’ll keep tweaking it until it’s perfect.
The new DECO will be headed by Jared Jones, who’s consistently proven himself to be a compassionate, tactful, and reliable leader. (Also, punctual as hell.) I have faith in his ability to understand and serve our community’s needs as it continues to grow. Between the Center for Integrated Design, the new UX minor, and other exciting things yet to be announced, UT’s design scene is beginning to take off!
Some people have asked what it’s like, to pass on this thing I’ve spent so many hours and gray hairs building up.
It’s bittersweet. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been a perfect president; I’ve made shortsighted decisions, micromanaged, and spent too little time building the crucial relationships within our team. Organizations tend to reflect their leaders in both good and bad ways, and I know for a fact that my weaknesses caused DECO to struggle in certain areas.
Under our new team, we’ll be able to adapt and grow like never before. Watch for Jared’s announcement about the changes and how everyone can get involved! In the meantime, I’d recommend joining our new Facebook group; although we aren’t eager to leave our current one — it’s grown to 700+ members in 3 semesters — it was a tradeoff for the long-term benefits of a “Within UT Austin” Facebook group, which is way easier for UT students to discover and join.
I’ll be watching from the sidelines, because it’s time to let the next up show what they’re capable of.
(Also, because no one wants to ask why that dude who already graduated is still hanging out in a college Facebook group.)
Still, I’d like to open my line to anyone who needs it. I’ve been fortunate enough to turn design from a hobby into my full-time job, and if that’s a path you’re considering, I’m happy to help you navigate any questions or concerns you may have. Don’t hesitate to message me on Facebook; I’ll also be writing on my Medium from time to time.
I’ve grown so much from this organization, and I sincerely hope that when you graduate, you’ll be able to say the same. To every DECO member present, past, and future—goodbye for now, and thanks for everything.