Story by Sarah Sabatke

About 20 students pose for a group photo.
MU junior Elizabeth Ustinov was one of about 20 students selected for Facebook’s inaugural Product Design Summit. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Ustinov.

A fascination with journalism and emerging technologies — plus a tip from an MU alumna — took Elizabeth Ustinov from the MU Student Center to Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. This fall, Ustinov was one of only about 20 students selected to participate in Facebook’s inaugural Product Design Summit.

She heard about the summit from Katie Yaeger, BJ ’15, a product content strategist at Facebook. Ustinov decided to give it a shot and submitted her portfolio.

Ustinov visited Facebook HQ in Menlo Park, California. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Ustinov.

In August, she learned that she’d been selected.

“It felt really awesome,” Ustinov said. “I was so excited. I was like, ‘Ah! I can’t focus on anything else today!’”

The following month, Ustinov flew to California for two days to learn, collaborate and network with Facebook designers and leaders.

“Facebook taught us how to use Origami, an in-house program they developed, to create high-fidelity prototypes,” Ustinov said, “and we also got to speak to people who work there as product designers.”

Ustinov, a junior from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, says her interest in product design played a large role in her decision to attend MU.

“I knew I was interested in journalism but also emerging technology,” she said. “I thought this would be a good choice to combine my passions.”

Elizabeth Ustinov stands in front of the MU Student Center.
Ustinov found opportunities to combine her passions in the MU Student Center.
Julia Hansen/University of Missouri

Ustinov found two opportunities to combine those passions through involvement on campus.

She is currently the communications director for MU’s student-run radio station, KCOU 88.1 FM,  where she explores her love of music while creating and promoting events. She also works as a graphic designer with the MU Division of Student Affairs, where she creates graphics for student programs and services.

“I learned a lot of skills, like managing my projects and communicating with clients,” Ustinov said.

She said mentorship has played an important role in her journey at MU and credits staff members – including Sequoyah Moore, a graphic designer with the MU Division of Student Affairs – for encouraging Ustinov to be ambitious and proactive.

After graduating in 2021, Ustinov is considering graduate school and hopes to work as a product designer. She says participating in the Facebook Product Design Summit has helped her feel more confident in the design process — and in her own work.


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