The Many Faces of Gifted: Monica

December 17, 2013

By Carole Rosner

Every gifted person has a unique story. The following story is part of a series of posts depicting the many faces of gifted by highlighting gifted children and adults we have found through IEA programs. IEA’s Apprenticeship Program – mentioned in this story – links gifted high school students from across the country with mentors who advance each participant’s skills through the application of knowledge and exposure to real world experiences.


Monica Lienke
2001 Apprentice, Industrial Design at Art Center College of Design (Art Center)
Law Student, Stanford University

Twelve years ago, Monica Lienke was one of the first IEA Apprentices at Art Center. She worked closely with Stan Kong, a leading design educator in Los Angeles. She described her two-week experience as “long hours and a lot of work, but extremely gratifying. I remember feeling that I had learned a ton by the end of it. But probably the best part of the program was getting to know the other participants in the program, who were all incredibly talented and unique individuals.”

Monica focused on product design at Art Center and designed a concept for an ergonomic gardening tool. She said she chose a design-oriented program because she liked that there were creative and visual art components to it. Her days were spent in and out of the classroom with lectures, discussions, model-making, sketching classes and field trips.

After high school, Monica went on to earn a B.A. in political science from UC Berkeley and is now at Stanford for law school. “After graduating, I worked for a year at the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy, a political economy research institute on campus. I then spent almost three years in the legal department at Google. Going into my job at Google, I actually hadn’t intended to go to law school, but I found myself really enjoying my role there, which involved learning about technologies, helping to realize innovative ideas, and working with amazingly smart and passionate people.”

“I’m still in law school and working on the side for a small early stage start-up that was co-founded by an engineer and a law school graduate who met each other at Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute for Design. The product is a website for people with a creative project (like a product design, start up, or artistic work) to discuss their projects with a broader group of people, get feedback and guidance, and develop supportive communities around their projects to help them succeed. The A.I. component of the site is a recommendation engine that scans a person’s social networks to suggest people they know who could contribute to whatever issue they are discussing on the site. My role in the start-up is multi-faceted, but I mostly focus on user engagement and business development. I’ve loved getting to work with a great team on a product whose underlying goal is to encourage more people to undertake and participate in creative endeavors.”

Monica still takes some design-oriented classes and hopes to work with a start-up company or for clients that create and innovate.

When I asked Monica what she’d say to others who are considering IEA’s Apprenticeship Program, she replied, “It’s an amazing opportunity to explore an area you might be interested in and meet people who will inspire you!”

Does the Apprenticeship Program sound like a good fit for a high school student you know? 2014 Apprenticeship information and applications are available on our website now!

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