Lily Lin: Recipe for Creating a Leader

Lily Lin, ArtCenter’s Summer 2020 Student Leadership Award winner, who described her high school self as a shy, back-of-the-class person governed by fear and uncertainty, pushed herself to move from Canada to California to attend ArtCenter. “I knew I no longer wanted to be bound by my high school self; nevertheless, I would never have expected the next four years to lead me to where I am now,” Lily recalls.

Four years later, she served in two officer roles for ArtCenter’s Student Government, worked as a teaching assistant for multiple courses, participated as a volunteer for the student-led TEDx event and the ArtReach student club, which brought art and design education to local underserved youth. In addition, she worked in the library, for the Career and Professional Development department, as an orientation leader and in the Exchange and Study Away department. She is graduating with distinction earning a BFA in Illustration and a minor in Social Impact Design. Along the way she traveled to Chile with Designmatters and interned in New Zealand, China and Canada. Her work has been recognized with a Gold Spark award and an ADC Young Ones merit award. Somewhere along the way she gained confidence and developed into a leader. It started when she volunteered to participate in creating the 2017 TEDxACCD, Beauty of the Fail, which explored the topic of failure. Accepting failure as a part of growth was exactly what Lily needed.     

“Volunteering for TEDxACCD in 2017 changed my entire perspective as a student and is truly the event that sparked my passion for giving back to the ArtCenter community,” Lily recalls, it “was the beginning of me learning to embrace the unknown and welcome mistakes in order to grow.”

That experience gave her the confidence to apply for a position in student government becoming first director of social media and marketing, and subsequently vice president. She credits the mentoring she received in those roles from CSE staff and her fellow student government representatives for teaching her that “ leadership is not simply about directing people; instead, it's about being humble and encouraging empathy, action, and collaboration within a team,” and recognizing “there is a sense of trust that is built from sharing vulnerability with each other.”

According to her peers, “she knows the balance between managing people and humanizing with them,” and is “is the type of person everyone would want as their art director or boss.”

“The more I understand about the ArtCenter community,” Lily shared, “the more I want to share my story of overcoming my initial fear to create an environment that nurtures self-growth and embraces mistakes, much like the one I was given.”

Speaking to her peers during the commencement ceremony, Lily sent them off with this message, “if there is one thing that 2020 has confirmed, it’s that we no longer have the privilege to procrastinate and wait for things to happen. I can’t wait to see all of us getting out there working on things that are meaningful to each of us. Because at the end of the day, we’re all just people trying to create change.”

Leadership is not simply about directing people; instead, it's about being humble and encouraging empathy, action and collaboration within a team.

Lily LinBFA '20 Illustration
Grad Show

Check out Lily's Grad Show portfolio