PA Spotlight: Meet Sawyer Judge (SFS ’19)
The following post is one of a regular series of student accounts of their experiences working within the Red House ecosystem as Project Associates.
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Sawyer Judge, I’m from St. Louis, MO and I’m an accelerated Security Studies Graduate Student concentrating in Military Operations. I will graduate from undergrad with my SFS class of 2019 this May and then I will finish my masters by May of 2020. During undergrad, I studied International Politics with a focus in international security. I have a particular interest in operational warfighting and the overlap between design thinking and military innovation. I’m an air force brat, so the mission-driven aspect of my studies runs in the family.
What initially drew you to the work we do here?
Red House is an incubator for the ideas of wildly creative people who dare to ask “what if” questions that challenge assumptions of higher education. I love that. The people here inspire me to ask good questions in every area of my life and to use non-traditional methods for exploring my interests. I think the work we do here is inherently exciting.
What projects are you working on now at the Red House? Why are you drawn to those projects?
I joined Red House as a sophomore when I applied to be on a student team designing the Core Pathways Climate Change experience. Since then, I’ve seen the Climate Change pathway grow from its infancy to its current form, complete with a fantastic cohort of professors and students, interesting integrative days that connect our community with partners in DC, and room to grow. For me, the Core Pathways project is proof that a university can reinvent itself, and is a testament to the finer points of innovative educational structures. Learning happens in and out of the classroom. And education CAN tackle wicked problems. I think students leave Core Pathways understanding those two things. I’m really glad I can be a part of that.
What do you see as the importance and contributions of the Red House to higher education as a whole, but also to Georgetown more specifically in today’s day and age?
I think the power of design thinking as a tool for confronting intimidating questions is something that most industries are taking seriously. Consulting agencies are setting up their own innovation shops, even the military is trying to incorporate certain aspects of it. And if the future is design thinking, then Red House is already in the future. I think places like Red House show that universities are still preparing students to enter the world with the tools to live impactful, fulfilled lives.
But just because institutions and organizations recognize the importance of design thinking doesn’t mean it’s always done right. And that’s a challenge we actively address here. I think pushing the limits of design thinking, and holding our inventions to a high standard of effectiveness is key to our success. It’s both the content and the rigor of our work that makes it valuable.
Favorite Red House memory?
The organizational culture of Red House is a product of all the creative minds that live here, so I never know what exciting conversations and activities will take place when I walk in the door. But I think my favorite times are when I’m standing in front of a white board with other team members having a brainstorming session. There are so many times I can think of where we drew and imagined until the expo markers were exhausted – those are my favorite memories.
How has your experience at the Red House shaped your broader Georgetown experience? Your mindset?
My time at Red House has definitely informed how I see my future and my academic experience. Right now I’m at a critical juncture. With my undergraduate experience coming to a close and with one more year of graduate school left, I feel a mix of anticipation and nostalgia. In the Jesuit spirit, these days I spend a lot of time with my bullet journal completing introspective exercises. It’s important to think about where I want to be, but more important is understanding how far I’ve come. Red House has played a big role in how I think about my skills and my priorities. In particular, I’ve realized how important it is for me to find a work environment with collaboration and conversational problem solving in the day to day workload. I’ve also embraced my creativity when so many traditional career paths would encourage me to suppress it. I attribute my confidence to make fundamental decisions (choices that lead to things I want to do for the sake of doing them, rather than things I would do as a step to something else) to Red House.