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Student Personas

Wondering if the Doctor of Design program is right for you? Take a look at these Doctor of Design student profiles to see what types of professionals enroll in the program.

Early Career

  • BFA with concentration in Fine Art; MBA in International Business Studies and Product Development
  • 7 years of professional experience, including internships with leading brands and design houses (all facets of each business unit)
  • Currently is the merchandising manager with a national brand
  • Has a passion for brand research, product development, and product life-cycle

Rationale: Pursuing DDes to advance her career path and expertise in design development with a research-specific focus

Grace Williams has 7 years of professional experience that includes internships with leading brands and design houses. At present they are the Merchandising Manager, and have a passion for brand research, product development, and product life-cycles. They have decided to pursue the Doctor of Design to advance their career path and expertise in design development with a research-specific focus. They are interested in sourcing and upcycling sustainable materials in ways that are also practical and profitable for business.

Early Career

  • Master’s degree in Architecture with an interest in design health and wellbeing
  • 15 years of professional experience in design firms specializing in healthcare and retirement facilities and interiors
  • Currently is senior associate with a leading architecture firm; certified LEED/WELL AP
  • Member of AIA; active in professional knowledge community around health and design issues for the aging

Rationale: Wants to deepen his expertise in translating and applying principles of design for improving health and wellbeing, and also move forward in firm leadership

Kenneth Kihlstrom has 15 years of experience in design firms, with a specialized focus in healthcare and retirement facilities/interiors. He earned a Master’s degree in Architecture specializing in design, health, and wellbeing, and is now a senior associate with a leading architecture firm. Certified for LEED/WELL AP, he is active in the professional community interested in health and design issues for the aging. Kenneth chose the Doctor of Design program to help him deepen his design expertise. The online distance education structure allows him to balance his already busy lifestyle while adding credentials to move him forward in firm leadership.

Mid Career

Vincent Martinez [age 45], Married with two children

  • BA in Art History; MGD / Masters in Graphic Design; PMP (Project Management Professional); Additional course work in photography, videography, and UX design
  • 20 years of professional experience, including Museum Archivist, Art Director, Creative Director and freelance designer
  • Teaches photography at the local community college
  • Member of AIGA, and an active member of the local design community

Rationale: As a busy working father he is looking to expand his credentials without committing to a full-time residential Ph.D. program (balance work, life, education)

Vincent Martinez has spent the last 20 years pursuing various career paths, including as a Museum Archivist and Art Director. He is now a Creative Director for a local graphic design firm, and occasionally takes on freelance opportunities. A few nights each week he teaches photography at his local community college; during the summer he coaches a kids’ soccer team. Vincent would like to develop innovative techniques in digital photography but has no extra time to commit to a full-time residential Ph.D. program. The Doctor of Design program allows him enough flexibility to pursue his doctoral degree part time while balancing an active work, family, and professional life.

Mid Career

Felicia Matthews [age 51], Divorced with three adult children

  • BA in Sociology, BA in Art & Design, MS in Nonprofit Studies
  • 25+ years of professional experience; Early career working as a social worker; Volunteer coordinator for a nonprofit; Small business owner; Social entrepreneur
  • Active community leader, Active volunteer, Town Council Board member
  • Initiated revitalization of the small rural community she lives in

Rationale: As a passionate member of her community she is exploring the DDes program to better define her research interests in public arts, equitable design, and economic revitalization.

Felicia Matthews has devoted much of her career to developing and cultivating the communities she lives in. Her 25+ years of professional experience first began in social work, and with additional education she was able to move into the role of a volunteer coordinator for a local nonprofit organization. She now owns and operates her own business in her small rural community. Through her service as a Town Council board member and community leader she was able to initiate a revitalization effort for her town that will accommodate growing demand for area tourism and better opportunities for the small businesses within the community. Felicia is exploring the Doctor of Design program to identify effective case studies where public arts stimulated equitable design and economic revitalization.

Late Career

Philip Chen [age 58], Married with two adult children who both have advanced degrees

  • Arch, MLA, Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP)
  • 35+ years of professional experience; Much of his career has been within local government and currently serves as Executive Director with Economic Planning and Development
  • Active member of several municipal organizations and chapter president of the local community farm (food-producing garden)
  • Environmental sustainability is a priority

Rationale: His goals are to collaborate with other professionals and academics, and explore existing best practices for economic planning which take environmental sustainability into consideration. The DDes program is a perfect fit as he doesn’t want to pursue a full-time Ph.D. and wants the flexibility to continue working while conducting his research efforts.

Environmental sustainability has been a priority throughout Philip Chen’s career. He has thirty-five plus years of experience working within his local government, and currently serves as the Executive Director for Economic Planning and Development. He is an active member of several municipal organizations and chapter president of his local community-supported farm. Philip’s goals are to collaborate with professionals and academics to explore best practices for economic planning which take environmental sustainability into consideration. The Doctor of Design program is a perfect fit as he doesn’t want to pursue a full-time PhD, and wants the flexibility to continue working while conducting his research efforts.