IFDA Student Scholarship Winners Announced

Published: July 15, 2023

The Educational Foundation (EF) of IFDA, the International Furnishings and Design Association, is pleased to announce its design student scholarship winners for 2023. Since the early years of this 76-year-old global design industry alliance, EF has awarded scholarships to high-achieving design students. This year the nine scholarship winners received a total of $19,000. The judging was conducted by a subset of the EF’s Board of Trustees.

“Congratulations to all the winners! We are very pleased to present the scholarships to them,” said Karen Dzendolet, chairman of the board of the Educational Foundation of IFDA. “Students represent our future, and these scholarships confirm our belief in supporting them and enhancing public awareness of design through educational and philanthropic programs.”

Earline Feldman, FIFDA, director of scholarships & grants, echoed the sentiment. “True to our mission, we awarded nine scholarships to the most deserving students. The judges were challenged to select the winners as there were applications from all over the U.S.”

Applicants must be currently enrolled and scholarships are paid to the school for the 2023 fall semester tuition. The nine scholarship winners share a passion for creating interior environments that are healthy, sustainable and enhance the quality of life, while also serving diverse populations and drawing upon many cultures. They are as follows:

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Alexandra Kasson of Miami University in Columbus, Ohio, won the IFDA Leaders Commemorative Scholarship for $1,500 open to full-time undergraduate students. Alexandra is a rising senior interior design major and sustainability minor, graduating in May 2024. She is vice president of the Miami University IIDA Chapter and is a member of Alpha Rho Chi. She loves staying active and doing anything outdoors. Alexandra studied abroad in London last summer and will be interning for Disney this summer.

The Part-Time Student Scholarship for $1,500 open to undergraduate students was awarded to Tameka Hamilton of Seminole State College in Sanford, Fla. Tameka was born and raised by a single parent (an 18-year-old Bahamian immigrant with only a tenth-grade education) and that has been Tameka’s motivation to continue to use education to flourish and give back. Currently, as an assistant principal, Tameka has had 17 wonderful years of fostering and cultivating the minds of our youth. It has always been Tameka’s dream to pursue a degree in interior design. One of her goals is to buy and flip homes in low socioeconomic communities and run after-school youth centers. The educator within her wants to be educated on all aspects of the architectural and financial aspects of design. At 39 years old, Tameka said, “I’m not the average college student seeking a bachelor’s degree but I’m mature enough to say that I don’t want any more regrets because ‘A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.’”

Isabel Dingus, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., was the winner of the IFDA Student Member Scholarship for $2,000 open to full-time undergraduate IFDA student members. “My double major in interior design and anthropology, with a focus on ancient design, reflects my lifelong curiosity on how the built environment shapes and influences human culture,” said Isabel. Her goal is to integrate her knowledge from both interior design and anthropology, establishing a small firm that draws inspiration from this research and infuses it into the design process. By doing so, she aims to create and preserve spaces that are thoughtfully tailored to the unique needs and expressions of diverse human cultures.

The Vercille Voss IFDA Graduate Student Scholarship for $2,000 open to full- or part-time graduate students went to Farzane Omidi, a PhD student in the interior and environmental design program at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Tex. Her background is in architecture, and she holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in this field. Her focus in the PhD program is on healthcare projects, which she feels aligns with the current needs in the U.S. Her research interests encompass healthcare design, evidence-based design and sustainability. With more than 10 years of experience, Farzane has worked for design firms where she has been involved in the design of various building types. Her expertise lies in architecture and interior design, with a particular emphasis on design development.

Penia Bernstein of the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, R.I., won the Ruth Clark Furniture Design Scholarship for $4,000 open to full- or part-time undergraduate or graduate students with a course emphasis on furniture design. She holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University of Pennsylvania, where she concentrated in photography and exhibited work in nine juried exhibitions. Her work was published in “RES: A Journal of Undergraduate Research,” President’s Award Issue. After graduating, she apprenticed with a woodturner and studied at Penland and the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. She also held a residency in a woodshop in Arvada, Colo., and interned for a designer in Wheat Ridge, Colo. Recently, she started designing and building commissioned custom pieces. In the fall of 2023, she will matriculate in Rhode Island School of Design’s two-year MFA program in furniture design. “My designs are influenced by more than my educational background,” said Bernstein. “I’m an avid rock climber. There’s an aesthetic relevance to my passion for climbing tied to my work as a designer. The opportunity to engage with nature in such a personal and intimate way informs and inspires my approach to design.”

Zariah Fowler, a senior at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Mich., was awarded the Tricia LeVangie Green/Sustainable Design Scholarship for $1,500 for full- or part-time undergraduate students. She is an active member of IIDA and an honor roll student. Outside of her studies, she is a first-time mother, construction assistant and former NBA dancer and captain. After graduation, Zariah plans to continue her education through LTU and obtain a master’s in architecture. She has a strong passion for her community, as well as sustainability and human-centered design. Zariah believes that all individuals, including the unhoused, veterans and those in low-income communities, are entitled to interacting with spaces that are intentional and well-designed.

Sarah Clark of Savannah College of Art & Design in Savannah, Ga, was named the winner of the Barbara Beckmann Textile Design Scholarship for $3,000. The scholarship is open to full- or part-time undergraduate and graduate students with course emphasis on textile design. Sarah Clark is a fibers student at the college. Her love for tangible crafts and creation sparked her interest in the textile field. Combining her passion for handiwork with digital media is what drew her to specialize in print and pattern development. She aims to create work that layers different mediums, techniques and textures in order to form elegant compositions that are unique to her personal style.

The IFDA Philadelphia Scholarship for Interior Design for $2,500 was awarded to James Dzwil, a fourth-year student in the interior architecture and design program at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla. The scholarship is open to two-, three- or four-year interior design or related program students. James intends on focusing on kitchen and bath design as he advances through school and the field. His biggest accomplishment to date is attaining the rank of Eagle Scout before relocating to Florida from Rhode Island.

Linh Ha, an undergraduate at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass., studying interior architecture, won the Window Fashion Certified Professionals Fast Track Scholarship for $1,000 (one full registration for the webinar series) that is open to undergraduates in a two- or three-year interior design or related program. In an effort to promote diversity and cultural awareness, Linh has sought to learn more about different cultures and how they could heighten design to build communities. With a strong passion for culture, she aims to use architecture to strengthen human connections. Outside of interior architecture, Linh’s interests include fashion and thrifting. She hopes to incorporate the bold and unique elements of fashion into architecture.

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