Written by: Brontae Williamson, 2016 Taylor's Gift Foundation Scholarship recipient presented by NIKE North America Merchandising and a freshman student at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI.
We all desire to leave our mark on the world, but what does that really mean? To me, outliving yourself is about creating a future, not only for yourself, but for others. For me, outliving myself has meant being able to make a difference in the lives of those around me. Through my past experiences volunteering with teens at Vista Maria (a local shelter for abused teen girls); multiple animal shelters and food banks; and traveling to Germany on a foreign exchange program, I have learned that the short relationships I build with others can make a real-world impact. My volunteer experiences have inspired me to pursue a degree in Product Design, a field where I will dedicate my life to creating products that not only improve people’s way of life, but make a difference within communities and the environment.
Inspired by Veronika Scott, a recent College for Creative Studies graduate who is the co-founder of her own company, the Empowerment Plan, I have found myself developing a passion for creating social impact. The Empowerment Plan, which hires homeless individuals and trains them to produce Veronika’s one-of-a-kind product, is creating a social movement in Detroit and inspiring other young designers to use their designs to benefit their community. Veronika’s class-inspired product was created while Veronika was a College for Creative Studies student working in her studio classes to design a product that could create a broad social change. Through researching a product at local homeless shelters, Veronika created a jacket which converts into a sleeping bag to help the homeless population. Even with an influential product in hand, Veronika chose not to stop her impact there, but also created a company to bring local jobs to the economy.
Through my few months at the College for Creative Studies, I have become inspired by the encouraged growth of creative, out-of-the-box, life-changing ideas. In my first semester as a college freshman, I designed, created, and presented a well-developed product model known as WISH, a solar and wind powered lighting substitute to traditional electrical lighting systems. My experience creating the WISH light has shown me how I can make real world products that can change the lives people of all different walks of life. Created as a substitute for individuals who lack access to electricity due to the effects of poverty, the WISH light was a project that I chose to take in a direction that I believe would create my own legacy as a designer. From this project, I realized that I desired to become a designer that creates a meaningful impact, inspire creativity, and help others encourage positive change in the environment. Not only did this project highlight a social issue that is applicable to areas all around the world, but it took an approach in an eco-friendly, low-cost, and 100% recyclable manner.
To me, outliving yourself isn’t about being a well-known name in history, but someone whose actions or words have caused a ripple effect around the world. Sometimes the smallest differences made by an individual can blossom into something much bigger, and to me, this is an important life goal.
In my future years at the College for Creative Studies, I plan to continue my studies in Product Design, focusing on making affordable products that can allow positive change to flourish within my community. In addition, I have begun to pursue a Business Concentration and Advertising Minor, which I hope to one day use to create my own line of products.
Brontae is a 2016 Taylor's Gift Foundation Scholarship winner and now attends the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, MI. Our application for the 2017 Taylor's Gift Foundation Scholarship presented by NIKE North America Merchandising is now open, click here to learn more or click below to apply!