Encouraging diversity secures Wilson School of Design student an international scholarship

Tue, Apr 26, 2022

An interior design student from Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Wilson School of Design has won an international association’s scholarship competition by pressing for more diversity in the design industry.

IIDA, a commercial interior design association with more than 15,000 members across 58 countries, offered the IA Interior Architects Diversity in Design Scholarship to support and elevate students that represent diverse voices and perspectives.

Farhath Ahmed, a third year student in the Wilson School of Design, won the 2022 award for her essay Diversity from the Top, which set out her strategies for creating diverse and inclusive workplaces in the design industry.

“If we want minority students to aspire and be successful in the field, they need to see someone who represents them in senior roles in firms, someone they can look up to and be inspired by their success,” she wrote in the essay. “If students don’t see diversity in the future workplace and see that capable, senior and talented folks never make it to the top – they aren’t going to be as motivated to join an industry that doesn’t enable minority growth to the top levels.”

Winning first place in the competition secured Ahmed a $5,000 scholarship, but it was the subject that made her want to apply.

“I saw it as a great opportunity to voice my opinion and thoughts about an issue that is very real and has an impact on people not just in the design community but globally,” says Ahmed. “I commend IIDA and [scholarship sponsors] IA Interior Architects for recognizing and opening up dialogue about this issue in an effort to make change in the right direction.”

Ahmed’s long-term goal as a designer is to create spaces that not only have a positive impact on the user but also the environment.

“I want to create seamless designs which integrate functionality and sustainability in an aesthetic package,” she adds. “Creating the fine balance between art and science.”

She chose the Bachelor of Interior Design at KPU to learn the skills needed to realize her ambition because it is cohort based, which means the same students learn together full-time over the four-year program.

“The strength in forming close bonds with peers and faculty is a huge asset,” she says. “I can confidently say that the faculty and peer relationships I have formed in my three years here at KPU are invaluable and will carry forward in my life and career.”