Maria Reeves ’25 is spending time Berlin, Germany as part of a Women’s and Gender Studies program. During her...
Major in Integrated International Studies
Tell us about your work, your duties, and your responsibilities.
I am a user experience (UX) designer. My area of focus is on designing conversations. I have a linguistics background, but this is not required to become a conversation designer. As a UX designer, I work on the natural language understanding and the conversational exchange between Amazon customers and Amazon Astro (a household robot for home monitoring). This impacts how Astro recognizes what customers say to it, as well as how Astro responds. Since Astro does not have its own voice, this involves a lot of nonverbal communication through facial gestures and “body” language. I work with the rest of the UX design team, including animators, sound designers, and Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) specialists to determine how to have Astro convey those nonverbal responses.
How has Knox had an impact on your career?
I can attest that a liberal arts degree and a lot of patience are very important in one’s career. A liberal arts degree opens one to a lot of opportunities. It made me more open to learning lots of different things as part of my real life.
How did your experiences at Knox—inside and outside the classroom—ignite or develop the interests you're pursuing in your after-Knox life?
I had so many experiences at Knox in such varied places. Knox created a trusting, open environment that helped me explore my interests. It is small enough you don’t feel like you are stuck in one niche area while you are there, and you can meet lots of people through clubs or events who do lots of different things. It is easy to do so because people are open to that kind of exchange. When you arrive on campus and can’t find where you need to go, anybody is willing to tell you. This was not my experience on several other campuses as a prospective student. It is not just a college, it is a community. You can fit into that community any way you want.
What should prospective students know about Knox?
Prospective students should not be afraid to reach out to people at Knox. Find current students, reach out to them, ask them their experiences.
What advice would you give to current Knox students?
Keep trying new things. If it interests you, even remotely, go check it out and see if it calls to you because you will never know until you check it out. I am a big believer of saying yes to things when opportunities arise. Even if you don’t think it is where you need to be going, it can still influence you and help you in the future.
Reach out to alumni. Knox is so well connected that you can build those relationships. Speak with alumni engagement at Knox or find somebody on LinkedIn that went to Knox and does what you are interested in. Ask them questions. If they are like me, they will make time to speak with you. Knox people are everywhere. The community exists beyond the campus.