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Love of Storytelling Fuels Visiting Innovator's Creation of Kyrion

During a two-day visit to campus Visiting Innovator Ariana Washington ’04, a video game designer and lawyer, worked with students in a variety of classes and shared the story-in-progress of her career and life since Loomis Chaffee.

Ariana created Kyrion, an open world fantasy-adventure video game, while also working as a lawyer for Uber. Although Kyrion is not yet for sale, it has a playable demo and released its first trailer last spring as Ariana continues to advance the game's development. She also continues to practice law, now as senior counsel at Airbnb.

Over the course of her two days on the Island October 13–14, Ariana met with computer science and robotics students and worked with the Problem-Solving for the Common Good class in the Pearse Hub for Innovation (PHI). She also shared meals and conversations with a variety of students and faculty, including students in the Black Alumni Mentorship program and student leaders of the multicultural group PRISM.

At an evening forum of students and faculty on Thursday, October 13, she discussed her academic, personal, and professional trajectory so far, a journey that has been fueled by both a drive to practice law and a passion for creative expression, among other influences.

After Loomis, Ariana attended Fordham University for two years then transferred to Hampton University, a historically Black college in Atlanta, where she earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a Master of Education. She went on to Emory University School of Law, where she received her law degree in 2013.

Ariana's mother had a profound influence on Ariana, and they were very close, she said. Her mother's death while Ariana was in law school was devastating and altered Ariana's approach to life. Until then, she said, she had "stayed on the straight and narrow. … My goals were linear, but at the same time none of my goals really represented me and who I wanted to be." After losing her mom, she adopted a live-life-to-the-fullest attitude, she said, and when she was in her third year of law school, she started screenwriting. Her love of storytelling eventually led her to create Kyrion.

Ariana encouraged students to map out a plan for their lives but to be flexible and not to be afraid to pivot. In her case, she said, practicing law doesn't fully express her identity, but a legal career has helped her to afford to pursue video game creation simultaneously. "It's all part of the layers of me," she said.

Ariana's visit was made possible by the Peter Hsing ’86 Fund for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The PHI and the Center for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion helped to organize the events.


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