Shaun Tai

Shaun Tai

Role/Company: Founder & executive director of Oakland Digital Arts & Literacy Center, an independent not-for-profit, public benefit corporation providing digital literacy education to small businesses and professional development training to students in Oakland and the East Bay. In 2008, Shaun successfully documented the history of Bay Area urban music by creating an online campaign that exceeded 14 million video views in its first year. Through this effort, he saw the lack of positive role-models and opportunities afforded to young adults in East Bay inner-city communities, and this played a large part in his decision to create Oakland Digital.  

Major: B.S., Advertising, '05; M.A., Architectural & Urban Design, '07


Why are you proud to be a Spartan? I’m extremely proud to be a San José State Spartan. Beyond the beautiful campus and its culturally rich students, being near the success and excitement of Silicon Valley unleashed my entrepreneurial spirit. For the first time, I felt a part of a group and also something bigger than myself. 

Favorite SJSU memory: President George Bush and Senator John Kerry at the Student Union. The room was packed and the students were at the edges of their seats. There was so much enthusiasm - and politics aside - to see students that excited and riled up about a debate was tremendous.

Which professors had the greatest impact on you? My three thesis advisors, SJSU professors Diana Seah, John Davidson, Asha Weinstein, had the greatest impact on me. Because the interdisciplinary studies major consists of an individualized, interdisciplinary program, Diana, John & Asha went above and beyond their call of duty, taking time out of their busy schedules to assist me. They kept pushing me to dig deeper and go a step beyond. It feels great having a paper published and available through SJSU ScholarWorks!

What influenced your success in getting a job after college: Being a part of meaningful projects, which helped me discover my inspiration for design, technology and community. And finding mentors that I believed in, and that believed in me, who could help me realize my dream of founding a non-profit working to bridge the digital literacy divide. Thank you Dr. Andreas Weigend, Donald Tamaki, and Linda Poeng!

Advice to current SJSU students: Maximize opportunities. Every experience, good or bad, will add value to your personal brand. Learn that mistakes are not mistakes, but hidden gems that are beautiful.