Newsletter Article

Graduation Keynote Speaker: Stephanie Yu

Stephanie Yu
Stephanie Yu

"To have a user-centered design process, you must first understand and care for the user above all. Having a background in Psychology was advantageous for me in challenging my peers and people I met in industry to focus on ways to create better tools by taking the time to really understand in depth what people actually want and what they need."

     - Stephanie Yu, graduating senior in Psychology and Human Centered Design and Engineering

Stephanie Yu has always been passionate about increasing understanding and awareness of the mental health field. Inspired by relatives and friends who have disabilities, she was drawn to the Psychology major as she wanted to learn more about behavioral and societal influences that affect us all. "Psychology has taught me how valuable it is to not just make assumptions about people but also to deeply understand and make connections with people," says Stephanie.

In addition to completing two degrees, Stephanie took full advantage of the wide range of classroom, research, volunteer, and internship opportunities available to her. She identifies classes such as Abnormal Psychology and Social Psychology as ones that taught her about the huge impact that our experiences have on our behavior and about the importance of considering multiple perspectives. She also remembers particularly enjoying discussion-based classes, such as those taught by Dr. Tabitha Kirkland and Dr. Chantel Prat. "I always felt encouraged by my professors and fellow students to express my thoughts and challenge current assumptions," recalls Stephanie.

Stephanie has a great appreciation for her two majors and the ways in which they both inform and complement one another. She credits Psychology with providing a depth of understanding of people's behaviors and eliciting an open-mindedness to societal influences, and her Human Centered Design and Engineering major with allowing her to apply her skills and knowledge using a user-centered design process.

When asked about her advice for future Psychology majors, Stephanie says, "push yourself out of your comfort zone!" She encourages students to take classes that challenge them and to find inspiration and opportunities by reaching out to professors, advisors, peers, and other supporters. Stephanie's research experiences have ranged from studying Parkinson's disease using fruit flies to researching neurodegenerative diseases to examining individual differences in language. She also volunteered as an assistant teacher with Engineering for Kids, teaching engineering concepts to children in Seattle area elementary schools, and as an art teacher at Circle of Friends Mental Health, working with individuals experiencing homelessness who also had physical or mental disabilities. Stephanie's industry experience includes working on projects with EagleView Technologies, Workday, and Amazon.

Following graduation from UW and travels through Europe, Stephanie's next stop will be San Francisco where she will work as a product design intern for Redfin. "Hopefully, one day in the future," says Stephanie, "I will work in the field of accessibility where I can continue my dreams of creating more tools for inclusivity for people with disabilities."