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Student Stories

Fresh Encounters: Lillian Zeng

"Going the extra mile gets you to the top." Not only is Lillian Zeng a multidisciplinary artist, but she has also challenged the #1 Super Smash Bros Melee player in the world...

Tell me a little bit about your journey to the Academy? What were you looking for in an undergraduate program?  

I came from a fine arts background but always maintained an interest in wider applications for artistic principles beyond a canvas. When applying to college, I chose art programs at some schools, business at others, and engineering for the rest. I knew I was interested in all these fields, but I wasn’t sure which I wanted to pursue the most. I was prepared to do a double major or dual degree no matter where I went, until I discovered IYA. It was the perfect mix of everything I wanted to study and had a small school within a big school feel, which was extremely important to me.

Describe a passion project you’re currently working? 

Designing the interface of an app that improves the event-going and creating experience.

What inspired the project?

As a student, I noticed several flaws in how we discover and attend events on campus and wanted to create a better platform. I also wanted to understand the process of UIUX design from user research to high-fidelity wireframing and doing so in practice was the most effective way.

Is there a leader or mentor who inspires you? 

Sarah Kauss, Mark Cuban & Paula Scher

Is there an inspirational quote you live by?

“Going the extra mile gets you to the top.” -Red Bull

What are three goals you have this year?

  1. Become a morning person
  2. Keep an organized calendar
  3. Drop my caffeine addiction

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

I once played against the #1 Super Smash Bros Melee player in the world and took a life off him. Proudest moment of my life.

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

At the end of the day, you’re the only one who can transform your own life.

Fun Facts

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

  1. Various Dongles
  2. Earbuds
  3. Sketchbook
  4. Gum

Favorite app or website?


Favorite class at USC and why?

Innovator's Forum– learning how to ideate and present realistic industry solutions is an amazing practice. Seeing my peers’ different approaches to tackling problems is also a hugely inspiring aspect that I cherish in the class.


Favorite way to de-stress?

Figure skating or jamming out on the ukelele.

Guilty Pleasure?

Late night beach trips and long drives with no destinations. 

More information about Lillian's projects can be found on her website.

Thank you, Lillian!