Alumni Feature: Izhar Buendia

Izhard Buendia describes himself as “an energetic and curious extrovert who believes anything is possible, but is realizing not everything has to be possible.”

Buendia’s determination has landed him a job as a user experience designer at GE Digital where he focuses on designing interactions people have with GE’s digital products, such as mobile apps.

“I conduct user research to better understand our customers’ behaviors and needs,” he said. “I also design interactive screens to conceptualize the ideal digital experience, and collaborate with software engineers to build out the digital product.”

Homeschooled throughout high school, Buendia graduated from Henderson in 2014 with a degree in communication. He was raised in New Jersey, but his family moved to southwest Arkansas when he was 17.

Buendia attended graduate school at the University of Michigan where he earned his Master’s of Science in information.

“As a graduate student, I had the opportunity to intern at GE in their Michigan software hub and volunteer in the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington D.C.,” Buendia said. “After completing my master’s, GE Digital offered me a position at their software hub in the San Francisco area where I started in August 2016.

“I am still trying to figure out what is next for me, but I want to learn more about artificial intelligence and business administration. I also want to find a way to get more involved with my community both locally and globally.”

Henderson’s new innovative media program was still in the planning stages when Buendia completed his studies, but it’s a program that would have catered to his interests and aspirations.

“The innovative media program is one of its kind that teaches you the skills needed for today’s advanced technological economy,” he said.

But Henderson’s mass media program adequately prepared Buendia for his early success.

“At the core of interaction design are the basic human communication principles,” he said. “My degree from the communication department at Henderson prepared me to better understand people and give public speeches. Those are two skills that are crucial for my job today.”

Buendia said the most interesting aspect of mass media, especially in his field of user experience design, is the responsibility practitioners have when creating content or experiences for others.

“The Internet is very powerful and there is a need for media professionals to be extremely mindful in the decisions they make because they can have series ramifications,” he said. “In my profession, we talk with customers in order to understand what they need. I really enjoy taking the learnings from such conversations and designing a product that helps people accomplish what they need in a simple and easy way.”

Buendia said he had always been interested in media. Before attending Henderson, he enrolled at a small private college to learn how to design and code websites. He then took a job as a media manager where he realized he wanted to learn more about web design and development.

“It wasn’t just coding skills I was looking for, but also a way to leverage human interactions onto the web,” Buendia said. “That’s when I decided to study communication at Henderson and focus on human interaction since I felt I could teach myself the coding and design skills.

“I am thankful for my advisor, Dr. (Randy) Duncan, who made the effort to understand my unique perspective on communication and allowed me to have side projects where I was able to bridge my communication courses with my interest in technology.”

• This alumni feature is part of an ongoing project featuring Henderson's outstanding undergraduate and graduate academic programs.