Amanda Willis (BA, 2006; MA, 2015) is an alumnus of SFU Surrey's first cohort of the Interactive Arts and Technology program.


Alumni Feature: Meet Amanda Willis

January 28, 2022

SFU Degree(s): Bachelor of Science - Major in Interactive Arts and Technology, 2006; Master of Arts - Educational Technology and Learning Design, 2015

After completing SFU Surrey’s first cohort of the Interactive Arts and Technology program in 2006, I completed an Interaction Design Masters from Malmo University in Sweden, before returning to SFU for a Master of Arts in Educational Technology and Learning Design in 2015. During this time, I also worked in social justice fields in research and education– using transferable skills I learned from graphic design, new media, project management, instructional design, and user experience design. Currently, I will be using these skills in my new role as a Program Manager with Indigenous Health, working to support the San’yas program and tech team to continue providing nationwide Indigenous Cultural Safety Training on an online platform. 

My values focus around accountability and using the best of our skills, knowledge, and privilege to do good. As a person of mixed ancestry (Coast Salish, Filipino, and European roots), accountability means doing my best to ensure that I am creating space for the conversations that aren't happening, for the needs and voices of others to be heard, and to enhance opportunities where they are lacking. With this value of accountability in mind, this year I was so excited to work with Surrey Cares to create the Indigenous Surrey Student Bursary Fund.

What drew you to your area of study?

I have always found SFU Surrey to be on the leading edge of technology and saw its potential for meaningful social change.  I've pursued studies and work experiences that have equipped me with design tools to support education and engagement, tackling big problems like structural inequity and Indigenous-specific racism.

Initially, my fascination with new media drew me to SFU Surrey. I remember being advised by my parents to pursue an interest, and something 'useful'. I started to see technology as a foundational tool for work in general, regardless of the field. But I really liked getting into the behaviour part of how and why we design tools to be meaningful for people.

What is your favourite memory of your time at SFU?

I have countless favourite memories: supporting a brilliant research team to develop a tabletop learning game related to my thesis, being part of small cohorts where close friendships were formed, traveling alone for the first time on a student exchange program to Sweden, working in Co-op education, planning an impromptu grad boat cruise with friends, seeing the various ways classmates were able to use their learning in the real world…

What advice do you have for SFU students going through their degree?

Make as many meaningful connections as possible. Go out of your way to ask questions to professors and administrators. Be willing to ask or give help. Find out if there are opportunities/jobs/bursaries available. Make friends and find out what fuels people's goals and passions. When you find mentors and professionals that you respect, ask them about their paths. Keep in touch with your peers. Recommend each other for jobs and opportunities. Be reliable and kind.

Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

Our alumni go on to engage their community in a variety of ways. Read more alumni stories here.