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Participating in ACE in China 2018 inspired former Stanford Women’s Lacrosse team member Mikaela Watson to pursue a Master’s in Sustainability at Stanford. Now, Watson is currently working as a user experience designer. She regularly draws on the lessons in sustainability, culturally sensitive service, and interpersonal connection that she learned during ACE.

What are you doing now? How did ACE influence your career pathway?

I am a User Experience Designer at Intel Corporation where I use ethnographic research and human centered approaches to imagine and design experiences that inform platform architecture. In my role, I use creativity, empathy, and my commitment to sustainability as my colleagues and I tackle problems and strategize solutions for our users.

During my ACE in China experience, I was so fortunate to be exposed to different cultures in the towns and cities we visited in the Tibetan region, and the experience helped spark my interest in user research and understanding people. The trip was also pivotal in inspiring me to study sustainability in my Master’s program as I saw many human and environmental interactions taking place there.

women fishing
A small group of the kids and me exploring the pond critters together during my ACE in China program.

What is one lesson from ACE that still holds true today?

The ACE program also reaffirmed my love for sports, especially recreational sports. It was amazing to play my favorite childhood games like knock out and kickball with the children and to connect and communicate with them despite the language barrier. It was a rare moment to remember the innocence, bond, and pure joy sports provide.

Describe your ACE experience in as few words as possible:

Perspective shifting fostered by connections.

What’s one thing you want people to know about ACE?

ACE provides an amazing opportunity for student-athletes to travel, meet new people, and expand their viewpoints in a supportive environment where they can still train and honor their commitments to their respective sports. It was a pivotal experience for me, and I am so grateful for the opportunity.