Tia Thomson’s career goal is to connect her interests in service and experience design with her passion for social justice. She has already started. A soon-to-be design grad, Tia has managed a 3.96 GPA while amassing more than 500 hours of community service. She’s always looking for a challenge and has mastered every one that has come her way. In Experience Design 2, her favorite class (taught by Professor Miso Kim), Tia helped create a robotic travel assistant to help passengers with disabilities navigate the airport. She says, “It opened my eyes to how I could use design to improve the way that the world treats people.”
Many of Tia’s achievements center around equity. Through Scout Labs, Northeastern’s student-led design studio, her roles have escalated from designer to project lead, and most recently, director. In this capacity, Tia led an interdisciplinary team of students to partner with the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM), to establish a network of community mentors and experts to help youth engage with city officials. Scout Faculty Advisor Margarita Barrios Ponce says Tia’s “selfless approach and observations motivated the entire team to learn and produce work that was both authentic and useful.”
Tia’s service does not end with Scout Labs. She twice participated in Alternative Spring Breaks service trips, focusing on food justice in West Virginia, and land conservation in the Mojave Desert. Tia also designed print and web campaigns to help end discrimination for LGBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, explored the use of dignity as a principle of service design in the Elderly Technology Literacy Project and Second Chance Education Project, and helped increase the number and quality of inclusive playgrounds in Boston for the Playground Project: INDIGO. A multi-award winner, Tia received the Best Web Application Award at Hack@Brown 2017 for “Newseum,” an app that displays works of art correlated with current events. She also won the Hack the Archives (MIT) 2019, a concept that uses augmented reality to share the archival histories of gentrified areas in Boston with the public. One of Tia’s personal interests is fashion—not surprisingly, the circular/sustainable fashion economy.