August 14, 2020 Graphic Design Student Receives National Adobe Design Circle Scholarship

Johnathan Woods, a student in Graphic Design at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Architecture and Design, has been named a winner of the national Adobe Design Circle Scholarship. Only 10 winners out of 1,000 entries from more than 80 countries were selected for the 2020 honor.

According to its website, the $25,000 scholarship addresses the need to create opportunity for underrepresented groups to affect change in society. “Design must evolve and for that to happen, it’s important now more than ever for new and diverse voices to enter the industry and to succeed. Education is one of the key components in creating this change.”

Woods uses design to educate, inform and create positive reform in society in issues ranging from social to the environment. In addition to pursuing a degree in Graphic Design, this fourth-year student is minoring in entrepreneurship, which informs his work in branding and identity design for business and crafting meaningful user experiences.

“I wanted to apply for this scholarship because I felt like it aligned perfectly with my identity and my aspirations as a designer,” Woods said.  “The program is streamlined for minority students who are interested in solving tomorrow’s issues–socially, culturally, environmentally and beyond–through human experience and interactive design solutions.”

In Woods’s application for the scholarship, he included three pieces from his portfolio that he felt exemplified the purposes that design should serve: To educate, to inform and to encourage reform. The projects were the DUNK after-school program, African Union Passport and FreshFunnel App.

The DUNK program, Design Understanding + Notable Knowledge, is a design-based after-school program for students at Vine Middle Magnet School in Knoxville. This was a project for Woods’s design research class led by Sarah Lowe, professor and director of the School of Design.

“Jonathan gives 150% in seeking out opportunities to grow both creatively and professionally,” Lowe said. “He is an excellent example of what it means to take full advantage of a college education. We are proud of his being selected for this incredibly prestigious award.”

JW Passport Project

The African Union Passport was created in Lowe’s class to design the trans-African passport, one of the initial flagship projects of Agenda 2063, which is the African Union’s plan to position Africa as a world super power by 2063.

The FreshFunnel App is a food-waste reduction assistant designed for avid grocery-going, high-consumption individuals and family units seeking to move toward a zero-waste lifestyle.

“The goal of any good designer, I believe, is to always strive to expand your perspective and understanding of the world around you so that you can better articulate and construct valuable solutions,” Woods said.  “I anticipate that the experiences and resources provided by this opportunity will greatly assist me in my pursuit of this perpetual goal.”

In addition to the funding provided by the scholarship, Woods also will receive mentoring from an elite group of designers as he prepares to enter the design professional field.

In spring 2020, Woods also was awarded the inaugural School of Design Graves Award for Entrepreneurial Potential.


Check out Johnathan Woods’s portfolio.