FRESH Encounters: Haley Ho

Haley Ho graduating from USC

Freshman Haley Ho is a designer who applies an interdisciplinary mindset to everything she does. Most recently, Ho has applied her creativity to design a t-shirt to bring awareness to social issues while raising proceeds for food drives that support underserved residents of her native Bay Area/San Francisco. Read on...

What does being at the Academy mean to you?

To me, being at the Academy means that I have the incredible opportunity to work with some of the most talented and intelligent people I’ve ever met. The courses at the Academy have enabled me to expand my thought process in a multitude of directions (quantitative, visual, analytical, and verbal) while simultaneously making learning itself engaging through projects and group work.

An album cover design by Ho
Ho's personal branding logo

What is something about the way the world works that you'd like to disrupt?

After coming from a more traditional public high school to taking classes in the Academy, I realized that the way in which we learn at a younger age has the potential to be disrupted. I firmly believe that education accessibility and quality must be accounted for if technological advancement accelerates even further and the job market becomes more uncertain. Especially with the rise of social media and mass communication, the stagnant education system must adapt if we are to preserve the critical thought processes necessary for maintaining a more stable, democratic environment.

What are three goals you have this year?

I’d really like to fine-tune my skills in Adobe, Figma, and ProCreate, learn some coding fundamentals, and finish my first semester of college to the best of my ability.

Who is the most impressive entrepreneur alive today? Why?

Although Liah Yoo is pretty unknown, I really admire her as an entrepreneur since she is currently striving to create a sustainable movement in the beauty industry through her skincare brand, Krave Beauty. She consistently remains transparent with her audience, backs up her educational content related to skincare with scientific evidence, and aligns her intentions and values with conscious capitalism.

What are some things you want to know about your future senior self?

I’d really like to know if I was able to connect with even more people both inside and outside of the Academy. I’d also like to know more about the projects I was able to work on, if my interests changed, and what my plans are after graduation.

Haley takes a photo with a friend
Haley in a group photo with her family

Describe one thing most people don’t know about you?

When I was in middle school, I had a really intense “arts and crafts” phase. I made everything from polymer clay charms, homemade jewelry, resin keychains, and even needle-felted animals after watching an extensive amount of YouTube tutorials. Unfortunately, I stopped once I got to high school, but I’m hoping to go back to creating more crafts by hand in the near future.

What is one thing your parents taught you that you’d like to share?

No matter what, always put your best effort into everything that you do. Even if the outcome doesn’t turn out in the way that you anticipated, giving it everything you had will create an accurate reference point for future endeavors.

What is a recent project you’ve worked on that you’re really proud of?

This fall, I entered a design competition and was able to sell my t-shirt with a company called Fundamentals.Co. I actually drew the rough sketches of this particular design back in March as a way of encapsulating all of the frustrations and uneasiness I was experiencing during the start of the coronavirus pandemic in one, cohesive image. On the surface, Covid-19 appeared to only be affecting the Asian community, so I demonstrated that by drawing what appears to be "just" a bowl of ramen from far away. However, once you start to look more closely, you might notice details regarding the seriousness of this issue represented symbolically in the form of news articles, a cruise ship, and people desperate to escape.

A recent project of Haley's. A drawing of a ramen bowl made from news articles.
Haley's recent art project on a t-shirt.

100% of my share of the proceeds from this t-shirt will go towards SF New Deal, a nonprofit that pays smaller restaurants in the Bay Area to serve free meals to underserved residents in the community during the COVID-19 crisis. By buying my shirt, you'll be helping me donate to a cause that addresses food insecurity and the economy, supporting small businesses, their employees, and local residents in the San Francisco area.


What are the essential things you always keep in your backpack?

Laptop, AirPods/earbuds, and 0.5 Muji gel ink pens.

Favorite app, service or website?

Notion is definitely one of the best apps I’ve come across as a student! It’s allowed me to store all of my random ideas and notes into an organized digital workspace and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it.

If you could be best friends with one fictional character who would it be?

Dwight Schrute from The Office.

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