Students from B.C. and Ontario win 2022 Diversity in Design Scholarships

IIDA with IA Interior Architects (IA) announced the 2022 recipients of the IA Interior Architects Diversity in Design Scholarship. Two Canadian students, Farhath Ahmed and Nilojan Jegatheeswaran, received a first place scholarship and an honorable mention, respectively.

Students enrolled in a design or architecture program were encouraged to submit a 500-word essay challenging the design industry and education system to make actual change. The essays addressed actionable steps that universities and design firms can take to become more equitable places, as well as to highlight what changes will have the biggest impact on minority students looking to enter the field.

“Addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion is critical for creating change and shaping the future of design,” said IIDA Foundation Chair Tara Headley, IIDA. “By providing this opportunity, students can participate in these defining conversations early on and bring greater awareness to the power of representation.”

Farhath Ahmed, Student IIDA, of Kwantlen Polytechnic University (Surrey, British Columbia, Canada) was awarded this year’s first-place scholarship of $5,000 for their essay, “Diversity from the Top.” Nilojan Jegatheeswaran of University of Waterloo, School of Architecture (Cambridge, Ontario, Canada) was among four students to receive an honorable mention. Jegatheeswaran was awarded a $500 scholarship for their essay “A Part of the Canon.”

The scholarship fund was established as part of a five-year partnership between the IIDA Foundation and IA to enrich and advance the interior design profession by recognizing outstanding students. All essays were reviewed by select leadership of the IIDA Foundation Board of Trustees, IA, and are juried anonymously.

“This year, we challenged students to think about tactics for creating more equity in education and the design industry,” said IA Co-CEOs and Presidents Tom Powers, IIDA and David Bourke. “We received a number of outstanding entries strongly addressing this topic and we extend our sincerest congratulations to the winners. We’re excited to see the future impact these young professionals will have on the industry.”  

California State University Long Beach’s (Long Beach, California) Nadiri Wilson, Student IIDA, received the second-place award of $3,000 for their essay, “2022 IA Interior Architects Diversity in Design Scholarship.”

The Honorable mention recipients include: Tiffany Hayes of Marymount University (Arlington, Virginia) for their essay “Diversity in Design”; Shandiin Lake, Student IIDA of Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, Arizona) for their essay “Diversity and Inclusion within Design”; and Sayidmurad Sayfullaev of Parsons School of Design (New York City) for their essay “New Soil, Deconstruction for Tomorrow”.

All IA Diversity in Design Scholarship recipients will be featured in the IIDA newsletters “Design Matters” and “QUAD,” at the IIDA Annual Meeting hosted in Chicago in June. As part of the recognition, scholarship recipients will be invited to a virtual celebration this summer with IA’s leadership team. Details on the festivities will be announced in May.