Graduate student selected as Design Management Institute winner

Nakia Shelton working on one of her sketchnotes.
Nakia Shelton working on one of her sketchnotes at the DMI conference.

Nakia Shelton, a design thinking graduate student, was selected as a Design Management Institute (DMI) student essay winner and was invited to attend the 2018 Design Leadership Conference in Boston in early October.

DMI is an international design organization that aims to connect businesses and cultures to customers.  

To be selected as a student winner, applicants wrote a one-page essay based on one of five writing prompts. Shelton chose to write about how self-awareness and empathy are vital to innovative human-centered design, and how she wished she had studied psychology as an undergraduate.

“As a designer, I know how important it is to design with people instead of for people,” Shelton said. “Impactful solutions are produced when all stakeholders are actively involved in the design process. Developing a deeper level of understanding about yourself, and the ways in which you think, will help you see things objectively and with clarity; setting the stage for effective collaboration.”

DMI selected 13 recipients from around the globe with some winners from the United States, Brazil and Singapore. Each recipient was assigned a role at the conference and one of Shelton’s assigned roles was to assist the DMI president with the awards ceremony and the VIP reception. Shelton also drew sketchnotes, or drawings of notes.

Shelton was pushed to submit her application to the conference by Assistant Professor of Design Kathleen Sullivan.

“Because of her encouragement and belief in me, I took the step to enter the essay contest,” Shelton said. “She was my biggest supporter.”

After attending the conference Oct. 7-9, Shelton said that the conference made her “think bigger” in terms of design thinking’s global impact.

“Design thinking is changing the way in which we go about tackling the world’s most complex problems,” she said. “Just knowing the impact that design thinking has and what I can do with it is really inspiring for me in the future.”

Networking from the DMI conference will assist Shelton with her thesis, she said.

“Being able to network and hear from global leaders in the design thinking industry has given me so many ideas to pursue for my thesis,” Shelton said. “A key takeaway from what I have learned is to always stay aware of the pain points, because in that lies opportunities for innovation.”

Shelton was the second Radford University student selected as a DMI student essay winner.

Oct 26, 2018
Max Esterhuizen