Usama Hajj ('97)

Usama Hajj Senior Photo

For Usama Hajj, one of his earliest memories includes walking through the hallways as a subbie, and remembering how big the halls had felt. More memorably, he remembers being hit by a car in front of Uni, prompting the installation of school crossing lights. 

In school, two of Usama's most formative classes were Mr. Chris Butler’s World History class and Ms. Karen Hellyer’s Art class. Mr. Butler’s World History class taught him to think about cause and effect, and the extensive use of flowcharts in the class provided preliminary training for his day-to-day job today. Similarly, Ms. Hellyer's Art class gave him the opportunity to explore Photoshop and HTML early on, which set up his career today.

Outside of class, Usama dedicated his time to the Audiovisual (AV) Club, where he DJ’d at Uni dances. In particular, he remembers enjoying the ability to control the energy of the crowd when he stood behind the DJ decks. His most memorable dance was the goth- and industrial-themed Valentine’s Day dance he DJ’d his senior year. 

When Usama graduated from Uni, he was only sixteen, having skipped a year prior to entering Uni. He took a gap year in the Bay Area working various jobs during the early years of the dot-com boom. Usama then moved back to Central Illinois, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Today, he works as a designer at Apple.

Interview with Usama Hajj

Club & Athletic Membership

Audiovisual (AV) Club, Techno Club, Track, Cross Country


“I think that I got into the career that I am in right now in part through the relationship that Uni has with the University of Illinois, being able to blend technology with the visual arts and liberal arts, the way that I do today.”

Notable Accomplishments

  • Designer at Apple

  • Industrial Design degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Involved with the birth of the web and NCSA at an early age