IFDA’s Educational Foundation Announces Design Student Scholarship Winners for 2020

~ Students Committed to Enhancing the Quality of Life Through Interior Design ~

The Educational Foundation (EF) of IFDA, the International Furnishings and Design Association, is pleased to announce its design student scholarship winners for 2020.  Since the early years of this 73-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 $18,000.  The judging was conducted by a subset of the EF’s Board of Trustees.

“Congratulations to the winners!  We are delighted to award scholarships to these talented individuals who are emerging in the design and furnishings industry,” said Gail Belz, FIFDA, Chairman of the Board of the Educational Foundation of IFDA.  “We continue to be committed to improving our industry by supporting students and enhancing awareness through educational and philanthropic programs.”

Joyce Poynton, FIFDA, Director of Scholarships and Grants, echoed the sentiment. “We honor these winners. There were many capable applicants from across the country so the judges were challenged.”

Applicants must be currently enrolled and scholarships are paid to the school for the 2020 fall semester tuition.  The nine scholarship winners share a passion for creating interior environments that are healthy, sustainable and enhance the quality of life. They are as follows:


Alexander Nguyen of University of North Carolina, Greensboro won the IFDA Leaders Commemorative Scholarship for $1,500 open to undergraduate students. Nguyen, a first-generation Vietnamese American, is committed to quality of life issues in interior design. At university, he learned the principles of interior design that benefit both people and the natural environment. As a student leader, Nguyen enjoys making connections with his classmates to share the path to becoming a professional designer. In the 2019-20 school year, he served as IIDA Chapter President and increased the membership rates by hosting multiple professional events. Nguyen is currently finishing his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Architecture.


The Part-Time Student Scholarship for $1,500 open to undergraduate students was awarded to Rebecca Covarrubias of Woodbury University in Burbank, CA. Born in Chicago, IL, she moved with her family several times before settling down in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. She is currently working to complete her BFA in Interior Design with a minor in Marketing.  Covarrubias would like to pursue a master’s in Interior Architecture after working in the field. Through her Mexican heritage, passion for socio-cultural aspects and protecting the environment, Covarrubias is dedicated to the spatial experience, historic preservation and sustainability.


Molly Taylor of Mississippi State University (MSU) was the winner of the IFDA Student Member Scholarship for $2,000 open to undergraduate students. Although originally from Memphis, TN, Taylor is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Interior Design at MSU and belongs to IFDA’s Virtual Chapter, where she is able to connect with various industry leaders from across the globe. After graduating, Taylor intends to enter the healthcare design industry where she aspires to take part in planning a children’s hospital while practicing evidence-based design. Taylor is passionate about using her talents to create inclusive spaces for all groups of people.


Samantha Fonseca of Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, won the Ruth Clark Furniture Design Scholarship for $3,000 open to undergraduate or graduate students.  She is a senior studying Industrial Design with a concentration in Furniture Design.  Fonseca has always had an interest in the arts, from digital drawing to baking to painting, but didn’t think she could explore those creative interest within a college degree.  She discovered Furniture Design by chance on the schools list of majors and “instantly fell in love with it.”  She is amazed at being able to weld, construct tables and lamps or to use 3D modeling programs. After graduation, Fonseca hopes to work in the residential market, and to be able to not only design her work but to fabricate it as well!


Daniela Mujica of the University of Florida was the winner of the Verceille Voss IFDA Graduate Student Scholarship for $2,000. An international student from Bogotà, Colombia, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies and Political Science from University of North Florida and later on at the University of Florida she was offered the opportunity to apply her background in research to a design-related field. She has successfully completed her first year of her master’s in Sustainable Interior Design. “I believe that good interior design must be supported with research; it is the best way to assure our final product has a positive impact on people’s experience in the interior space.” Mujica’s long-term goal is to have her own design firm that will successfully provide healthy, safe and aesthetically pleasing spaces for people, particularly students.


Elizabeth Goebel of North Dakota State University won the Tricia LeVangie Green/Sustainable Design Scholarship for $1,500 open to undergraduate students. Goebel was born and raised in Williston, ND. Currently, she is a fourth-year student majoring in Interior Design while pursuing minors in Sociology and Natural Resource Management (NRM). Goebel says learning about NRM and taking other sustainability courses has taught her how important it is to create eco-friendly spaces.  In the future she plans on completing NCIDQ testing, becoming LEED AP certified and working at a sustainability-focused firm.  She enjoys outdoor activities such as traveling, hiking and camping so preservation is important to her.


Lenna Keshishian of The New School – Parsons School of Design in New York City was honored with the Barbara Beckmann Textile Design Scholarship for $3,000 open to currently enrolled full- or part-time undergraduate and graduate students with course emphasis on textile design. Keshishian is an artist who studied Visual Studies at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, and graduated with her BA in December 2016.  Born and raised in Rockland County, NY, she began her artistic exploration at the Art and Design Studio of Rockland. There, she learned traditional drawing and painting practices as a foundation of her skills. Working as an assistant art teacher at this studio throughout high school gave Keshishian confidence in her abilities as an artist. Going on to study fine arts in college, she explored and experimented with various mediums. From this exploration, she has developed a passion for silk-screen printmaking and textiles, specifically embroidery, beading and weaving. Her most recent work is inspired by her heritage as an American Armenian and her spiritual experiences growing up in the Armenian church. Keshishian is eager to return to school to obtain her MFA in textiles at Parsons School of Design in Fall of 2020.


Cary Reynolds of Mississippi State University (MSU) was named the winner of the IFDA Philadelphia Scholarship for Furniture Design for $2,500, open to two- three- or four-year undergraduates.  Hailing from Amory, MS, Reynolds received an Associate of Arts from Itawamba Community College in 2018 and he is currently working on his bachelor’s at MSU.  He is majoring in Interior Design and minoring in Landscape Architecture. He is a member of the ASID Student Chapter and the Fashion Board at MSU. He plans to begin his career in Interior Design and move towards product design in the future.  Reynolds aspires to have a line of products of his own.


Lauren Smothers of Iowa State University (ISU) was awarded 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 design school program. Smothers is a Cedar Falls, IA, native and will be starting her junior year as an Interior Design major in the College of Design at Iowa State. She has been interning with the Facilities, Planning, + Management Department at ISU where she works with designers on projects on buildings on campus.  She is grateful to have the opportunity to participate in Window Fashions Certified Professionals Fast Track Certification to gain an in-depth appreciation of window treatments in the design process. Smothers is a member of the ISU Interior Design Student Association and Women Who Design Club.  She will be expanding her education, gaining experience and exploring career interest through a summer 2021 internship and studying abroad in Italy for the fall 2021 semester.

IFDA Educational Foundation (https://www.ifdaef.org) is a non-profit, tax exempt, 501©(3) organization.  It’s nine scholarships support both full and part-time undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of interior, green/sustainable, product and textile design.  In addition, 13 grants support professional development opportunities for IFDA members and other design industry professionals as well as needed resources for design schools.  Visit instagram.com/ifdaef/ and facebook.com/ifda.educational.foundation/