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Senior Stories

Senior Spotlight: Mac Baker

Senior Mac Baker's love of tinkering has led her to follow in the footsteps of great inventors from the past. An admirer of Leonardo Da Vinci, Baker has spent her time at the Academy honing her creative chops in the hopes of one day patenting products that will change the world. Currently, Baker is developing an interactive, real-time VR film grounded in her family's experience moving to Chicago. 

Tell me a little bit about your journey to IYA? What were you looking for in an undergrad program (i.e. what attracted you)?

I've always wanted to be an inventor. My historical role model is Leonardo Da Vinci. He was a great inventor because he combined the practicality of science with the whimsy of art.

How have you evolved over the years? Any unexpected twists or turns in your journey?
I've learned how to leverage my network and resources. Coming into college, I've always shied away from asking for help, even when I really needed it. I think this was a huge mistake. In college, there are so many people who want you to succeed and the best thing you can do is reach out to them. My mentor, Sue Tan, has been a great influence on my academic and professional career and our friendship started from a simple chat over coffee.

What are some of your goals post-graduation?
I want to continue in my pursuit of becoming an inventor. I want to create new things and patent them, sell them, and change the world. I'll seek experience at big companies at first, but I eventually see myself running my own business.

Describe a passion project you're currently working on or interested in?
I've been working on creating an interactive, real-time VR film that depicts the feeling of moving on.

What inspired the project?
Recently, my family made the decision to move to Chicago which means that I'll be moving out of my childhood home. This just adds to the pressure of leaving college this year and entering the next phase of my career. I wanted to pay homage to the place I grew up in, but also gain closure from documenting the process.

Is there a leader or mentor who inspires you?
Sue Tan is a mentor who has helped me discover my love of the design process but also helps keep me level-headed when I start to feel overwhelmed by the looming future.

Is there an inspirational quote you live by?
"To develop a complete mind: Study the science of art; Study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else." - Leonardo da Vinci

What advice would you give to a freshman?
Get involved with as much as possible. I know a lot of people say this, but I'm serious. Some of the best experiences I've had were because of the extracurricular things I participated in.

Describe one thing most people don’t know about you?
I was adopted from China!

What the one thing your parents taught you that you'd like to share?
Trust that things will turn out okay in the end. No matter how stressful things may get, everything works itself out and you'll end up exactly where you're supposed to be.


What are the essential things you always keep in your backpack?
My planner, laptop, sunglasses, and Lactaid (ya girl loves ice cream, but it does not love her back)

Favorite app or website?
Pinterest, because I can get anything from new recipes I want to try to interior design inspiration for my future apartment.

Favorite class at USC and why?
Physical Computing: because we get to tinker and play with circuits to make playful inventions. I never took robotics in high school and I wasn't interested in committing fully to being an electrical engineer. So, this class was a great intro to the world of making.

Favorite way to de-stress?

Guilty pleasure?
Eating at Wingstop!

Thanks, Mac!