From Emerson to the Obama Foundation: Alumni Spotlight Series

posted in: Alumni, Media Design | 1

The Alumni Spotlight Series introduces you to Emerson grads who are following their passions, changing the world, and making waves in their industries. Want to be featured? Email us! 


Samantha Viotty

Civic Media, Art & Practice (MA) 2017
I’m an NYC-born multimedia artist, designer, and educator living in Washington DC. I currently work at the Obama Foundation using design thinking to empower young people around the country to effectively create change in their communities.
Describe your career path since graduation.
After I graduated in September 2017, I continued to work on my master’s thesis, a youth creative data literacy pilot program at various branches of the Boston Public Library until I was hired to work at the Obama Foundation as an Experience Design Associate in November.
Why did you choose to attend Emerson?
The CMAP program was the only program in the country that was so immersive, community driven, and creative. Emerson’s community is creative, and I value a liberal arts education.
Tell us about your Emerson experience.
I spent 12 months at Emerson and enjoyed my experience overall. I had never attended a college that was in the center of a city before, and it was an immersive and creative experience. Although I was in the first year of a new graduate program with a small group of individuals, I was able to take courses with people in other programs and that was truly another highlight of my experience. I made new friends and found bridges to connect our work. I am still connected to them and working with them and having their perspective really changed the way I was able to create.
Describe Emerson in 3 words.
Creative, eclectic, collaborative.
Describe your most memorable experience with Emerson’s faculty.
My trip to Salzburg was the highlight of my Emerson faculty experience. I had the opportunity to get to know my professors in a new way as well as get introduced to different Emerson staff. The immersive experience enhanced being at Emerson as a whole. I was able to teach alongside Emerson faculty during the summer, an opportunity I was looking forward to the entire year.
Tell us about a memorable project / internship that you worked on as a student.
My CMAP thesis project, called DIY Data Art, was a creative data literacy pilot program for youth at various branches of the Boston Public Library (Dudley, Copley, Egleston, and Mission Hill). Partnering and working very closely with design curriculum with four branches of the BPL and the middle school and high school students that frequented those libraries contributed to the success of the project. I worked with librarians and teens to come up with new and creative ideas on how to teach data literacy to young people and get them interested in the field of data science. The project culminated in a physical creative data literacy toolkit that included a creative data literacy curriculum with lesson plans and activities along with the materials to conduct those activities. Each librarian who worked with me on the project received a site-specific toolkit to use with the youth at their branches.
How did Emerson help you get to where you are today? 
The CMAP program helped me develop the design-thinking skills, strategic-planning skills, and program design needed for me take the position at the Obama Foundation that I have now. I managed an entire project from ideation to implementation (a very micro version of starting a program) during my CMAP thesis that is invaluable. I use the skills I learned in CMAP every day at work.

One Response

  1. […] Samantha Viotty graduated from Emerson’s MA in Civic Media: Art & Practice (aka CMAP) in 2017 and currently works for the Obama Foundation. In this video she talks about what civic media means, how she knew Emerson was right for her, and her relationships with our faculty. You can learn more about what she’s currently doing in her Alumni Spotlight post.  […]