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NewsJun 17, 2024

Scholarship Winners reflect on their experiences at DesignThinkers 2024 in Vancouver

Written by Leen Bakri, Lauren Chien, Garrett Poon, Daughter Creative, Daniela Rojas, Bella Sanchez, Jennifer Sutherland, and Cherry Wu
Photo by Cherry Wu Student RGD

The DesignThinkers Conference in Vancouver brought together the design community and creative minds from around the world to share ideas, inspire one another and push the boundaries of creativity.

DesignThinkers Scholarship Winners have the opportunity to attend the Conference in Vancouver for free and receive $500 in cash to help cover their expenses, through the support of our sponsors.

Below, they recount their experiences of the DesignThinkers Conference, and share how it has impacted their design journeys and fueled their passions.

The Designthinkers Toronto Scholarship Program is set to launch in August.

Leen Bakri Student RGD

Sponsor: 123w

"Winning the scholarship allowed me to meet creatives from diverse disciplines and attend educational talks as the design industry evolves. This opportunity inspired and motivated me while easing the financial burden of attending. I’m excited to share the knowledge I gained with my peers and contribute to the design community.

My favourite speaker at the conference was Ellen Lupton, who highlighted the importance and impact of typography. Through reading her book Thinking with Type, I fell in love with the process of typography and its anatomy. What drew me in the most was her discussion about Arabic typography. As an Arab, I'm happy she delved into the process and history of Arabic typography in this edition of her book. This acknowledgment of the Arabic script validates its cultural significance and celebrates its unique typographic challenges and beauty."

Lauren Chien Student RGD 

Sponsor: Resonance

"Winning a scholarship meant a lot to me. It not only provided financial support but also validated my efforts and dedication to design thinking. Receiving the scholarship was essential because it covered the costs of traveling and attending the conference, which I couldn’t have managed on my own. This opportunity has been invaluable, as it allowed me to connect with professionals in the industry, learn from top experts and bring new ideas back to my own work.

Valuable moments for me included attending the “Discover Your Creative Archetype: Unlock Your Creative Potential” workshop with Dominic Prevost from my sponsor Resonance and the “Dynamic Pattern Making” workshop with Zipeng Zhu. These sessions were fun and inspiring providing new approaches and techniques that have given me fresh insights into my creative process. I’m excited to apply these insights in my future projects."

Daniela Rojas DelaHoz Student RGD 

Sponsor: Roodenburg Design Consultants

"Winning a scholarship was surreal. Flying from Toronto to Vancouver for my first visit to the West Coast, and attending such a significant event, was beyond anything I could have imagined. Knowing that there are people who invest in the future of design and understand that these events are where we can network and broaden our horizons beyond our social circles is incredibly motivating. The talks continued to inspire me, to explore new pathways in design, and also help me overcome the fear of change and the evolution of the field. 

I learned that design isn’t a straightforward path; there are ups and downs along the way, but that shouldn’t demotivate us. As designers, we can work in different mediums by following our instincts. Some people may appreciate our approach, while others may not, but as long as we believe it is right, that is what matters. The future can be daunting with the advances of AI, but we must evolve. AI can never replace our creativity and human touch, but it can be a significant and helpful tool if we learn to use it effectively. I am very thankful for the opportunity and this whole experience."

Garrett Poon Provisional RGD

Sponsor: Rethink

"Winning a scholarship meant having the means to attend DesignThinkers. As someone who is now one year post graduation, it was a really great reminder of how important it is to be a lifelong learner. There were so many different perspectives that were shared that made me think about how to navigate the world as a designer. It meant a lot to be able to chat with a creative director from my sponsor, Rethink. It was a conversation that was full of incredibly valuable insights that might not have happened without the connection from the scholarship.

My favourite session that was ‘Discovering your Creative Archetype’ led by Dominic Prevost. It was a fascinating workshop where we did a Myers-briggs style test to determine our creative archetype. The questions were all super specific to the creative industry and the patterns were really fascinating. I left the workshop with a better understanding of myself, my strengths and weaknesses and how to tackle the day to day of creative life."

Bella Sanchez Student RGD 

Sponsor: OK Dave

"Winning a scholarship meant I could set aside all financial worries and fully embrace the opportunity to attend DesignThinkers. It allowed me to immerse myself completely in the learning, experience and networking opportunities the conference offered, which was incredibly fulfilling and enriching for my growth as an emerging designer.

One of the most valuable aspects of DesignThinkers 2024 was the opportunity to truly engage with the design community in person. In an era dominated by digital interactions, being able to connect face-to-face, share experiences and discuss vulnerabilities was incredibly meaningful. Building these personal connections and exchanging ideas outside virtual platforms allowed for deeper insights and a genuine sense of camaraderie. It reinforced the importance of human connection in fostering creativity and innovation within the design field, reminding me of the profound impact our work can have on communities and society as a whole."

Jennifer Sutherland Student RGD 

Sponsor: Pendo

"I'm a busy mom who left a career to return to school. Receiving the scholarship provided me with an opportunity to attend the conference in person, and I'm very grateful for that. So much of my time is spent in front of a computer and communicating with people through email and text. Meeting other designers in person and connecting with my peers on the RGD Student Committee was really wonderful. 

My favourite talks were the ones that focused on the humanity our industry and reminded me that life happens alongside and as part of our growth as designers. For me, that was Tina Roth Eisenberg, Zipeng Zhu, Lisa Congdon and Johnny Cupcake's talks."

Cherry Wu Student RGD 

Sponsor: Becoming Design Office

"Winning a scholarship was an incredible honour and a significant milestone in my design journey. It validated my hard work, boosted my confidence and provided an invaluable opportunity to learn from top industry minds.

My biggest takeaways were the importance of collaboration, the power of storytelling and how to adapt in an evolving industry. Meeting esteemed designers like Ellen Lupton and Jessica Hische was inspiring and humbling. Their dedication motivates me to strive for excellence and make a positive impact through design. Another highlight was the discussion on AI. It was fascinating to see how AI can streamline the design process and enhance creativity, allowing designers more time for innovation. This left me eager to explore AI's possibilities in my own projects."

The next DesignThinkers conference will take place in Toronto at Meridian Hall from November 7-8.

Register for DesignThinkers Toronto and secure the early bird price, ending on June 24. Click here to sign up!

Leen Bakri

Leen Bakri is an interdisciplinary designer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Currently, she is studying at NSCAD University, specializing in various design disciplines such as graphic, print media, product, environmental, and digital design.

Lauren Chien

Hi there— I’m Lauren Hsinyi Chien, a graphic designer originally from Taiwan now based in PEI, Canada. Inspired by my love for art and film, I’m passionate about pushing the boundaries of creativity through visual storytelling. My diverse background and eclectic interests converge to offer a unique perspective to every project I take on. With a seamless blend of graphic design sensibilities and a passion for innovation, I strive to infuse harmony and creativity into every design endeavor. Whether crafting compelling visuals or bringing ideas to life, my goal is to inspire and captivate audiences.

Garrett Poon

Daughter Creative


I am a multidisciplinary designer based in Calgary, Alberta with a passion for creating impactful and meaningful experiences through design. With a background in branding, editorial design, art direction, experimental typography, and motion graphics, I have honed a well-rounded skill set that allows me to tackle a wide range of creative challenges. As a recent graduate from Alberta University of the Arts, I hope to bring a fresh perspective and a commitment to solving problems with design. My work is characterized by a focus on typography, a love of experimentation, and a drive to connect with audiences on an emotional level.

Interested in working together? Get in touch.

Daniela Rojas

Daniela Rojas is a Graphic Designer, Artist and Student, with three years of experience in the design field. Passionate about publication design and illustration, Daniela dedicates herself to her art and invests her heart in every project. Graphic design, she explains, serves as her intangible canvas for translating her ideas and thoughts into tangible creations. She continually explores novel means of self-expression and, concurrently, fresh styles for presenting her projects.

Bella Sanchez

Bella Sanchez is a multidisciplinary designer fuelled by her dedication to creating impactful solutions. Her creative journey explores the crossroads of strategy, design, and storytelling.

With a commitment to authenticity and empathy, Bella brings a fresh perspective to every project she undertakes. Her passion lies in crafting designs that resonate deeply with people, fostering genuine connections and meaningful experiences.

Jennifer Sutherland

Jen is a second-year graphic design student at Centennial College. Before coming to Centennial, she worked in the medical not-for-profit industry, supporting associations, publishing medical journals, managing websites and helping plan conferences. Eager to expand her skill set, she is particularly interested in delving into motion graphics, information design and designing for multilingual applications with a focus on accessibility and inclusivity.

Cherry Wu

Interdisciplinary Designer with a proven track record crafting impactful visual narratives for global brands. Transitioning to UX/UI design with a strong foundation in Visual Communication. Skilled in strategic creativity and collaborating seamlessly across diverse teams.


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