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Alumni Spotlight: Class of 2016 Graduate River Wittke

1. Hi River. It’s been six years now since you graduated from THINK Global School. What have you been up to in that time?

It’s been a wild ride. After graduating I started at the New School in New York, where I had planned to study political science. Shortly after, the 2016 US election took place, and I had to reconsider whether I really wanted to invest money/time/effort to enter a field with which I was increasingly frustrated.

I withdrew from school and started working in graphic design, where I quickly found my niche making materials for the NGO/non-profit sector. I was also consistently entering competitions, and in 2018 I won the Adobe x Design for Democracy competition. My entry was featured on the Nasdaq in Times Square, and qualified me for the Adobe Creative Scholarship.

In 2019, I won the scholarship and moved to London to pursue a BA in Landscape Architecture from the University of Greenwich. I graduate in a week!

2. You’re the first TGS graduate to pursue a degree in landscape architecture. Could you tell us more about what led you down that path?

It’s certainly not the path I would have envisioned for myself six years ago, but I’m glad I found it. Landscape Architecture touches on a lot of the subjects I care about- politics, equity, climate responsibility, design- and is a rapidly evolving field. There’s a predominant preconception that landscape architecture is about designing gardens or parks. While that is certainly a component of the profession, its full scope is far more varied. For my dissertation I analyzed the socio-spatial differences between formal and informal refugee camps and their relative adaptability- this too is landscape architecture. Ultimately, it’s about understanding how spaces shape the lives of those who live in them.

3. What would you like to see yourself doing five years from now?

I plan on spending the next year or two doing freelance design work and learning Python and Unreal Engine 5. I’m really interested in using emerging technologies to push architecture/landscape to the limit. After that I plan to pursue a Masters degree at Goldsmiths in Research Architecture. Hopefully I’ll then be able to snag my dream job at Forensic Architecture, and use the skills I’ve accumulated to conduct spatial investigations.

An example of River’s work from “Project Gaia”

4. Do you feel your TGS education did a good job preparing you for life post-graduation?

Absolutely. Honestly my life would be incredibly different if not for Lindsay and the New Media Curriculum. It’s really because of her that I was ever able to work in graphic design at all.

Beyond that, TGS really forced me to learn to think laterally. Being able to find connections, implications, and convergences is such an asset, especially in a rapidly changing world.

5. Do you have any advice you would like to pass on to current or prospective THINK Global Students?

Lean into the process and follow your interests! Getting too caught up on a linear goal can really hinder your options to find what you love. I think the key is to find what you love learning and not worry so much about what you love doing. It’s easy to excel when you are excited about every step of the process, not just the end result.

6. Finally, since travel is such an integral part of our curriculum, do you have any travel experiences you’d like to share post-TGS that have stood out, or is there somewhere you would like to go?

Right before Covid broke out I went to Bali. I was lucky enough to stay with friends who lived there and were willing to show me around even though I’m useless on a motorbike. One of my last nights there we hiked Mount Batur in the middle of the night, in order to get to the top by sunrise. I’ll admit I was a skeptic- and also not a morning person- but the view was breathtaking.

Like to see more from River? You can find her digital portfolio here.

Ready to embark on the educational journey of a lifetime?

A passion for travel. A strong academic record. And the desire to improve the world as you experience it. If this sounds like you, you just might be our ideal candidate! Start your application with a five-minute inquiry form - you never know where you might end up.

It all starts here.

Ready to embark on the educational journey of a lifetime?

A passion for travel. A strong academic record. And the desire to improve the world as you experience it. If this sounds like you, you just might be our ideal candidate! Start your application with a five-minute inquiry form - you never know where you might end up.

It all starts here.

Apply now

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