Meet Product Design Graduate Jenn Kuca, Winner of the Summer 2012 Student Leadership Award

Summer 2012 Student Leadership Award winner Jenn Kuca. Photo: Chuck Spangler

Each term, Art Center presents the Student Leadership Award to a deserving student from the College. The award is a distinguished honor granted to a graduating student who exemplifies leadership qualities and accomplishments that stand out above their peers.

“This person has been nothing short of outstanding,” said Dean of Students Jeffrey Hoffman when presenting the award to Product Design graduate Jenn Kuca at Saturday’s Summer 2012 Graduation. “From her very first term, she chose to be involved and to lead us all to a better place.”

During her first year at Art Center, Kuca became an officer of the student chapter of Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) (and later, its president), where she organized the first annual IDSA Clash, a mixer event that brought together design professionals and students from multiple Southern California colleges.

As president of EcoCouncil, she convinced the administration to formalize the College’s long-term commitment to an eco-friendly future by participating in the STARS/PALS sustainability programs. And as a student representative for the College’s Facility and Technology Committee, she helped strategize improvements to support Art Center’s long-term strategic plan and educational mission.

“And those are only the highlights,” said Hoffman, as he listed an impressive string of Kuca’s accomplishments as a student.

When Kuca took the stage, she shared with her peers some of the insight she gained about Art Center, design and life in general.

On the implicit challenge of Art Center:

“From my very first visit to Art Center, I’ve felt that the implicit challenge to do better and to rise above is what sets this school apart. When I became a student, I discovered the best part, which is that my fellow students had the same expectations of themselves and of me.”

On raising the bar:

“When you need something done, it’s great knowing you have a group of faculty, staff and peers available to assist you with any given project that forces you to raise the bar. Because if you don’t, they’ll grab it from your hands and raise it for you.”

On being a designer:

“It seems funny to me to get an award for leadership, when really I’m just another designer. And designers, by definition, lead.”

On mentors:

“I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge one design leader in particular, our friend and instructor the late Norm Schureman. More than any other person he exemplified for me what it means to lead by example and live by one’s beliefs. I hope all of us, in the future, in the Art Center family, can continue to take inspiration from his memory and live by our beliefs.”

On her beliefs as a designer:

“Good design requires empathy and understanding.”
“Good designers excel equally in observation and activation.”
“Concepts come alive when they’re shared and debated.”
“Good design always incorporates long-term thinking.”
“Great design leads by example.”

Students who receive the Student Leadership Award represent the character, the integrity and the skills that Art Center desires for all students to develop during their time at the College. Recipients must have represented student interests by providing outstanding leadership through broad involvement in Art Center campus life.


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  1. Pingback: Valedictorian Roy Tatum Shares with Graduation Crowd Lessons He Learned at Art Center « Dotted Line | Official Blog of Art Center College of Design | Pasadena, CA | Learn to Create. Influence Change.

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