Rachel Ramsay is Assistant Professor of Digital Design at Utah Tech University. She works to enhance the opportunities for her students, and future students. Rachel graduated from Utah Tech in 1995.
“I enjoyed that Dixie felt like the next natural step and is part of the community,” she said. “I have close family ties, both my grandparents on my father’s side both attended Dixie. Both my parents’ graduated from Dixie and two siblings that graduated from Dixie as well. I loved my Dixie experience because of my close ties.” When she graduated her father was the Alumni president (93-95) so he was able to hand Rachel her degree. Dixie was small enough that she felt the personal attention and enjoyed her classes.
“What I do now is & before I began teaching directly affects my current career because of the important aspects I learned in digital design and communication.” Rachel took a two week course during a summer that allowed her to have an experience with graphic design helped give her the direction she wanted to go. She created a national youth program, Girls Go Digital, to enable young girls to have a positive hands on experience with technology and digital programming. “I want other young students to have an experience on a college campus that could possibly help influence their future,” she said. This can help them see themselves on a college campus in the future. When you’re an 8 year old girl you can say, “yeah I went to college every summer.” Then when they are older college isn’t scary and intimidating because they know what that’s like.
The Girls Go Digital program was developed out of Rachel’s master thesis to create a positive disruption. Normally it is thought of as a bad thing. Such as technology like an iPhone can be disruptive because it affects a normal behavior and changes what it would be elsewise. So she looked at it as becoming a positive. For example, Rachel remembers watching the space shuttle flights as a kid and in 1986 she was with her class and they watched the challenger shuttle launch and she remembers it exploded and feeling devastated as a fifth grader. That night she went home and decide she would write a letter to the president and let him know that she’s not scared and she would go. She wrote the letter to the president and she came back to her teacher and said, “Please send this to President Ronald Regan and tell him I’m not scared.” Her teacher took the letter from her and said, “You know the President is never going to send you to outer space.” As a 5th grader that can be a very negative experience. Whether or not he sent it or placed it in the trash can, however the teacher could have encouraged that type of idea instead, so that became a negative disruption for Rachel.
From that point Rachel began thinking, well maybe she can’t do science or maybe she can’t do math so she began to doing other interests. Rachel looked at those formative experiences for her personally, and how that shaped where her direction in her life was going. “As a graphic designer we think of us as designing logos etc., but the new trend in design is designing experience such as going into the Apple store a graphic designer designed the entire experience to help you love the store and fall in love with their computers,” she said. We have these negative disruptions, but is there a way we can have positive disruptions? Her idea behind Girls Go Digital is to take something that she’s personally invested in and be able to design a positive experience for those she knows; to create an experience to help them decide what they want to do. No matter what it is, as long as they wanted to, they can do it to help them feel empowered.
Girls Go Digital has expanded to 5 locations across Utah, 3 universities, and additional locations across the country.