The Project

Chicago Scholars is a leadership development program for underserved high school students in Chicago who may be first generation college students. REACH, an application being developed by Chicago Scholars, is designed to support these students further. The project's goal was to develop a low-fidelity user interface concept that would benefit students, academic institutions, and investors.

My Role

I was a student throughout this entire process. I took on several roles to gain experience. In the interest of ensuring the best result for our client, I collaborated with my teammates. In particular, I frequently shared project management duties with another team member. In my capacity as co-project manager, I made sure we completed the project on time, organized it, and scheduled and oversaw group meetings to guarantee parity in voice and work. More specifically, in my role as a UX researcher, I organized and created the questions, scheduled and led the interviews, shared notes and the transcript of the interviews, created affinity maps, identified the issue, created personas, and oversaw the handoff. Ultimately, I and my coworkers produced a low fidelity user interface (UI) to demonstrate to the client what we believed to be the best solution to their issue.

User Research

We concentrated on the Stanford d. school design process, which includes empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. This was due to the fact that we were working with Coding Dojo resources and a five-week deadline.

Our research, affinity mapping, personas, and problem statements lead us to design a low fidelity prototype targeting two users, the students and university staff. While the needs of these two users are similar, they also differ significantly. It was also important we did not leave out the third user, the investor. We had to keep in mind that in order to receive funding, investors would have to be dedicated to our application. With all of this considered, we focused largely on how the university could utilize this application.

Via the online application, institutions must be capable of tracking and contacting students. This enables students to feel like they belong and can get support when they need it. Both users benefit because students receive the assistance they require when the institution is able to recognize and connect with them. The concept was designed to use statistics to aid in establishing a supportive human relationship between students and university staff.


There were numerous discoveries, but a recurring theme emerged. The universities have always been committed to providing the greatest support for its students. Yet, many were having trouble, largely because it was so difficult to follow the student throughout their time in college. For instance, after being accepted, a student transferred into another department's responsibility. Unfortunately, it was evident that most departments lacked a reliable, consistent, and straightforward method of communication. Because no one was aware of what other people were doing or saying about the students, it was harder to help the student as a result. Via interviews with students, this was confirmed. In their new surroundings, students felt lost, unsupported, and lacking in community and direction in a space and time where they required it most urgently. To the left, you can see the university persona that was created based on our research.

Low Fidelity Protype
So, what's next?

I would like to collaborate with the other student team's research and low quality prototypes if more time and resources were available. Their primary concern was the issue facing students, and the REACH application as a whole may gain from merging suggestions from both groups. My team was working to include student ownership of their profile, which nicely aligned with the other groups work. By combining efforts, we would have been able to test these new concepts with users, continue to advocate for user interests, and develop a solution that Chicago Scholar could implement. Overall, we gave the Chicago Scholars research and an idea that they can use as they see fit in the future.

We developed a dashboard that university staff may use to follow and assist Chicago Scholars or other students with comparable backgrounds during their time in school. This dashboard enables quick access to centralized student data, student filtering options, data that aids university employees in decision-making, and capabilities for direct communication with students and other staff. If the student users are able to stay in school, build community, and secure a job once they graduate, both users will be successful. When communication between the institution and students is open, simple to use, and entertaining, it is easier to achieve.

Two low-fidelity dashboard prototypes are shown to the left. Users of the university can access specific students as well as view a list of all of their students on the homepage, which is depicted in the top image. Staff members at the university can modify their homepage to suit their needs. The lower image displays a particular student's profile and information. On the student profile, there are notes, grades, and student interaction. Ideally, students should have access to their profiles, allowing them to ask questions and add personal information.

Thank you so much to Coding Dojo, especially Rick Machanic and Collin Hadley for mentoring our team of new, creative designers. Without them, this endeavor and entry into the design industry would not have been as supported. I also value Chicago Scholars' support in allowing my team and I to collaborate with them.

Chicago Scholars Reach Application