SCD Senior Celebration

A huge and sincerely heartfelt congratulations to all of our graduating student staff pictured below! Scroll past the photo gallery to read the students' fondest memories of SCD, discover their chosen fields of study, and the most valuable knowledge they have gained from their time working at the Siebel Center for Design. 

Additionally, we would like to give special recognition to not just our undergraduate staff members, but those who completed master's degrees; Vatsal Tapiawala, Sid Patil, Shweta, and Wesley Pereira.

Elizabeth Coats 

Graphic Design with a minor in Media Studies

Vatsal Tapiawala

Aerospace Engineering

Sarah Anderson

Graphic Design and Information Sciences

Gabrielle Brunner

Architectural Studies


Gigi Bachand

Communication with minors in Psychology and Media

Emily Springer

Community Health with a minor in Communication

Kate Sadler

Supply Chain Management & Information Systems 

Emma Juffernbruch



Dexter Benjamin

Civil and Environmental Engineering with a minor in Political Science

Natalie Schneider

Graphic Design with a minor in Psychology

Edward Skrabacz

Engineering Physics & Astronomy with a minor in Mathematics

Audrey Nelson

Mechanical Engineering


Sid Patil

Information Management

James Esguerra

Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science


Urban Planning

Sumin Cho

Graphic Design


Manan Gupta 

Advanced Analytics

Alexa Nallen

Sustainable Design & Environmental Science with a minor in Urban Planning

Hayaa Chhaya


Wesley Pereira

Information Management

If you could describe your time at SCD in one emoji, which one would it be and why?

“👩‍🎨, because I was able to learn and grow a lot as a graphic designer in a professional environment, so I went with an artist. ” - Elizabeth

"😎, because I've gotten to work on cool projects with cool people." - Sarah

"🤓, since every time I come in the building there are so many smart people studying or working on projects." - Emily

"👩🏼‍💻, because there are always lots of students around taking advantage of a great environment to study and be productive!" - Kate

", the Grimace SCD emoji of course! It started as a joke after one of our former supervisors decided to leave the four-eyed grimace on a desk, and for some reason, we just fell in love with it." - Ed

"🎨, the paint palette because there are so many creative people working on a variety of different projects in the shop. Seeing them every shift inspires me to think creatively and come up with new ideas. In addition, the shop is getting more and more colorful with every addition we add to it." - James

"🕺, because it's always a fun time when working with my friends and on cool projects!" - Sumin

Reflecting on your time at Siebel Center for Design, what was the most rewarding aspect of your role(s)?

“The most rewarding part of being on the design intern team was having a supportive group of people to work with. Everyone on the team made work very fun and enjoyable. I feel like we were a little family that pushed each other to continue to be the best we could be." - Elizabeth

"During my tenure at the Siebel Center for Design, the most gratifying aspect of my role was the opportunity for continuous learning. Prior to joining SCD, my familiarity with human-centered design was limited. However, through immersion in a community of experts, I gained a profound appreciation for its significance in engineering and beyond." - Vatsal

"The most rewarding aspect of my role at SCD would be creating an impact with my projects. I had fun working on the UX Days program and it was rewarding to see how my design helped people navigate the event, as well as bring joy through the fun branding." - Sarah

"The most rewarding aspect of my role is the forever friends that I’ve made along the way. I wish I had started working here earlier so I could've spent more time with everyone." - Gabby

"I learned so much about myself and my career aspirations throughout my time at SCD, but the most rewarding aspect of my time as a Concierge Supervisor was the friendships I formed with so many members of the team and the memories we made/continue making together." -Gigi

"Getting to interact with so many different people with all different passions!" - Emily

"Being able to enhance the experience for others at Siebel." - Kate

"The opportunity to interact with other students and gain exposure to a new world outside my major or involvements. Without this job, I would have little to no understanding of what human-centered design is or interaction with the School of Art and Design. But, by working at SCD I was able to understand different coursework, events, and opportunities from those I worked alongside or interacted with while on the job. Now valuing the art of HCD, I hope to use it in practice in my future endeavors." - Emma

"Getting to know and collaborating with my incredible coworkers!" - Dexter

"Getting to work with awesome people." - Natalie

"The most rewarding part of working at Siebel was the ability to interact with other students and dig into how I could help them, from something as small as finding a building location to help them find ways to make their project a success." - Ed

"Learning how to use all the equipment in the shop & getting to help guests use it for their projects." - Audrey

"Making an impact with K-12 students." - Sid

"Saying that I helped every guest to the best of my ability and seeing their joy when they finish their project." - James

"Applying my creative skills to real-world projects and seeing my designs make a tangible impact within the space. Additionally, learning from everyone around me, receiving feedback on my designs, and building relationships with mentors and peers were invaluable experiences that contributed to my growth in the field of graphic design." - Sumin

"The most rewarding aspect of my role was the opportunity to witness the transformative impact of design thinking on individuals and communities. While engaging with students, faculty, and external partners, I saw how design methodologies empowered people to tackle complex problems creatively, fostering empathy, collaboration, and innovative solutions. Seeing the tangible outcomes of our efforts, whether through student camps, community initiatives, or interdisciplinary collaborations, was incredibly fulfilling and reinforced the value of human-centered design in addressing real-world challenges." - Wesley

How has working at Siebel Center for Design contributed to your personal and professional growth?

"I’ve learned what to look for when creating a good design, along with how to adapt to change and overcome challenges when you least expect them." - Elizabeth

"Engaging in activities like teaching at high school camps, attending workshops, and having conversations with experienced individuals has helped me improve important soft skills such as communication, collaboration, and empathy. These skills aren't just valuable at work; they're also really useful in everyday life." - Vatsal

"By teaching me that sharing my ideas can go a long way. For example, I was interested in gaining more UX experience, so I pitched an SCD Tours app idea, and was able to create a fully functioning prototype design. The biggest lesson I have learned is that communicating your goals to your management can greatly benefit you, and you can have control of the types of projects you want to work on." - Sarah

"Helped me decide what career path I wanted to take after graduation and gave me the opportunities that I needed to pursue my dreams! I’m so grateful for everything." - Gabby

"I learned a lot about HCD and how this process can be applied to any number of interests/career paths. I have used this process as I participated and lead a few student marketing and UX projects for SCD. I am excited to continue exploring these fields post-grad!" - Gigi

"Improved ability to provide the best experience for customers/users." - Kate

"I've been able to understand and learn about human-centered design which is something I have not previously known about and now take interest in!" - Emma

"It taught me how to use HCD to holistically and empathetically solve problems in my both my personal and professional life." - Dexter

"Allowed me to see my designs from new perspectives." - Natalie

"The real SCD was the friends I made along the way! The staff at SCD are some of the most kind and thoughtful people I have ever had the pleasure of working with." - Ed

"I learned about fabrication techniques and got better at interpersonal communication." - Audrey

"It’s given me opportunities that I’m beyond grateful for to enhance my skills and expand my network." - Sid

"Working here at SCD really helped me understand how to create solutions that address people's needs/goals. When working with a guest, I make sure that they get what THEY want (not what I want) and help them to achieve that goal. We will have a discussion of the need, potential problems, and potential solutions and come to a consensus to how to move forward." - James

"I have always loved being a part of SCD, it’s such a positive environment to be in." - Shweta

"On a personal level, the collaborative and interdisciplinary environment fostered a spirit of curiosity, creativity, and continuous learning. Engaging with diverse teams and stakeholders expanded my perspective, challenged my assumptions, and honed my communication and interpersonal skills. Professionally, the hands-on experience with design thinking methodologies and project management provided invaluable practical skills that I could apply in various contexts. The opportunity to lead and contribute to meaningful projects allowed me to develop leadership abilities, problem-solving capabilities, and resilience in the face of complex challenges." - Wesley

Can you share a memorable moment or project from your time at Siebel Center for Design?

“During one of our Friday team meetings in the fall, our supervisor Mason brought his switch so we could all play Mario Smash Bros. It was a very enjoyable time getting to have some fun with the whole team.” - Elizabeth

“Watching the sophomore students in AE 202 showcase their diverse glider designs during launch day in  the Sunrise Studio was fascinating. As an aerospace student myself, it was exciting to see the creativity and innovation at play in their projects.” - Vatsal

“One of my most memorable projects was actually my first project as a design intern, which are the wallpapers that are up in the study nooks on the first and second floors. It's so cool to see how my work has helped bring SCD to life, creating an environment for everyone to enjoy.” - Sarah

“”My favorite project I did for SCD was definitely the Room Tech UX summer intern project I did with Gigi, Tien, and Mehr. It was the first time I met any of the concierge and I had so much fun working alongside them to create such a meaningful project!” - Gabby

“Seeing my summer internship project come together and sharing it with all the interns at the end of the summer.” - Gigi

“I loved that time the entire SCD student team went ice skating at the ice arena here on campus. It was a tremendous amount of fun.” - Dexter

“In the fall semester of my junior year, I worked on a project to revamp the website! Working with the HCD process allowed me to truly understand how our guests use our site which allowed me to come up with better ways of displaying our information.” - Ed

“Machining solar car's belly pan mold.” - Audrey 

“A memorable project is repurposing the old basketball nameplates into the new signs for the shop. It challenged me to work with our large format printer in a way I haven't done before.” - James

“During my second semester, when I enrolled in DTX 455 at SCD, I discovered my true career interests.” - Shweta

“Seeing the course I developed come to life was very special. This course will help students of digital agriculture understand the importance of HCD aspects in agriculture.” - Manan

Share your funniest blooper or mishap that happened while working at SCD.

“I can’t think of a specific blooper, but the team was always making jokes and having laughs with each other.” - Elizabeth

“My third day, the light on the stairs caught fire and a man took off his flip flop and put it out himself.” - Gabby

“When a mini fire started on the ramp.” - Emily

“Probably me falling on the ice.” - Dexter

“I mean.... I exist in a state of constant bloopers and mishaps so I don't think I can fully come up with just ONE!” - Ed

“The time Sarah and I angle grinded the ends off all the bolts.” - Audrey

What skills or knowledge have you gained that you believe will be valuable in your future endeavors?

“A skill I’ve developed was keeping a sharp eye on how I can elevate a design to make it better than it would’ve been.” - Elizabeth

“As I step into industry as an aerospace engineer, I'll keep in mind all the aspects of human-centered engineering design that I have learned here at SCD.” - Vatsal

“I’ve gained so many skills throughout my time here. Some examples are working for MDC and learning graphic design techniques I hadn't known before, leadership and teamwork through working on projects and leading the team, and time management from when I balanced school, MDC, and concierge tasks!” - Gabby

“Empathy, problem-solving, confidence, collaboration, organization, and leadership.” - Gigi

“The importance of human-centered design and making the users’ experience the best it can be.” - Kate

“In addition to just gaining an understanding of HCD, I got a lot of practice at collaborating to solve problems, which will be very useful throughout life.”   - Dexter

“While I am not going into design, the human-centered design process will always stay with me as I continue my research at Northwestern and beyond.”   - Ed

“Fabrication techniques & people management.” - Audrey

“Adaptability and Patience. The shop is a fast-paced environment with multiple moving parts happening at once. I had to be a quick-thinker and an even faster doer when making sure everything runs properly and people are being attended to. However, I had to be patient when teaching new people shop skills. In the beginning, I didn't know how to use any of the machines when I first stepped foot into SCD, so I show that same patience that others showed me.” - James

“Collaborating with a team and also UX design and research through HCD.” - Shweta

“I’ve acquired a diverse set of skills and knowledge ranging from collaboration, project management, user research, prototyping, iteration, presentation skills, design thinking, and adaptability.” - Wesley

As you graduate from the University of Illinois, what are your plans for the future?

“As of right now I’ve accepted a job in Virginia, so I’ll be moving out there at the end of June!” - Elizabeth

“I aspire to embark on a career as a mechanical design engineer within the aerospace or aeronautics industry.” - Vatsal

“I hope to relax for a bit, travel to some cool places, then start my job hunt.” - Sarah

“I’m planning on transitioning from the field of architecture to working in UI/UX design.” - Gabby

“I will be a Communications Summer Associate at Balyasny Asset Management in Chicago!” - Gigi

“I am attending UIC for grad school to pursue a Master of Public Health.” - Emily

“I will be working for True Value as a Pricing Analyst in the Chicago Area.” - Kate

“I will work in management consulting at McKinsey and Company as a Business Analyst in Chicago!” - Emma

“This summer, I'll be the Assistant Camp Director at Camp Anokijig in Wisconsin. Following that, I am looking to work in environmental consulting to protect our air and water quality.” - Dexter

“I'll be working as a parts information illustrator for Caterpillar!” - Natalie

“I will be attending Northwestern University to pursue a Ph.D. in Physics!” - Ed

“I have a job offer and am waiting on a few other responses, but it'll be working in industry as a mechanical engineer.” - Audrey 

“Continuing to work in Champaign by managing Illinois Design Consulting” - Sid

“To join industry, as a UX researcher.” - Shweta

“I’m moving to Dallas in July and working for a design firm as a Sustainability Designer!” - Alexa

“I have joined Amazon as a Business Analyst.” - Wesley

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience working with us at Siebel Center for Design? 

“I’m going to miss everyone on the design team. You guys made it so much fun!” - Elizabeth

“It's been great, I'll miss everyone so much!” - Emma

“I would like to shout out Emily Bear for being an incredible supervisor and mentor. Thank you, Emily, for everything you've done for all of us on the team!” - Dexter

“I have loved every moment of working at SCD. Through this job, I have met an amazing group of people I have come to cherish as close friends and family. The ability to communicate openly and honestly with both leaders and peers makes SCD not only one of the most inclusive spaces on campus but possibly the best place to work as an undergraduate.” - Ed

“SCD is the only campus job where your shift happens to be in the middle of a runway show, building wide thrift event, robotics competition, etc. I loved it and feel so lucky to have had a job that allows me to witness student-led events like that.” - Alexa

“Working at Siebel Center for Design has been an incredibly enriching experience, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to have been part of such a dynamic and innovative community. From collaborating with talented colleagues on exciting projects to engaging with students and industry partners, every moment has been filled with learning and growth. I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to have been part of such a vibrant and innovative community.” - Wesley


Thank you and take care graduates, it has been a pleasure to work with your bright minds and infectious spirits.