The IIDA Foundation and IA Interior Architects Announce the 2023 Diversity in Design Scholarship Recipients

The IIDA Foundation and IA Interior Architects (IA) are pleased to announce the 2023 recipients of the IA Interior Architects Diversity in Design Scholarship supporting and elevating students that represent diverse voices and perspectives in interior design.

“Across our industry, it’s crucial to continue addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion from education into leadership,” said IIDA Foundation Chair Tara Headley, IIDA. “We’re honored to work with partners like IA who are dedicated to these fundamental issues and ready to support young minds as they drive us all towards a better industry.”

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.

“The scholarship is awarded to graduate and undergraduate minority students who exhibit incredible vision for the future of design,” said IA Co-CEO/President, Tom Powers, IIDA. “Selecting recipients is rewardingly challenging as the applicants are all very talented with unique aspirations related to how meaningful design is and should be to our everyday lives.”

To apply, students who enrolled in a design or architecture program are tasked with writing a 500-word essay challenging the design industry and education system to make actual change. This year, the essays focused on two critical issues impacting students and the design industry moving forward: Sustainability and DE&I. The students addressed the connection between these two topics and how that connection affects the exploration of solutions to build a solid foundation for the next generation. All essays were reviewed by select leadership of the IIDA Foundation Board of Trustees and IA and are juried anonymously.

Bella Oliver

Bella Oliver, who studies Environmental Design at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, was awarded this year’s first-place scholarship of $5,000 for their essay, “Equity Is Sustainability.”

Sidnia Garcia

Thomas Jefferson University’s Sidnia Garcia, who is studying for a Masters of Science in Sustainable Design, received the second-place award of $3,000 for their essay, “The Best Thing the World Has Are the Many Worlds the World Has.”

Read the winning essays here

There were four additional $500 scholarship awards granted for essays that received honorable mentions; the recipients include Aliyah Murph, studying Architecture at the University of Cincinnati, for their essay, “Diverse Perspectives and Sustainability in Design”; Shurouq Aljammal, studying for a Masters of Interior Design at the New York School of Interior Design, for their essay “Equity Increases Perspective Through Lived Experience”; Calvin Ma, studying for a Masters in Interior Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona/UCLA Extension, for their essay, “Setting the Stage”; and Susan Hsin, studying Interior Architecture and Design at Colorado State University, for their essay, “The Importance of Place-Based Sustainability and Community Building.”

All IA Diversity in Design Scholarship recipients will be featured in the IIDA newsletters “Design Matters” and “QUAD” as well as celebrated during the IIDA Annual Meeting hosted in Chicago in June. The recipients will additionally be promoted to 400,000+ social media followers and on, where the complete winning essays are available.

As part of the recognition, scholarship recipients will be included in a celebration this summer 2023 with IA’s leadership team where they can engage in dialogue directly with practicing designers and architects. Details on the festivities will be announced later in the spring.

For more information about the IA Diversity in Design Scholarship, please contact


IIDA is the commercial interior design association with global reach. We support design professionals, industry affiliates, educators, students, firms, and their clients through our network of 15,000+ members across 58 countries. We advocate for advancements in education, design excellence, legislation, leadership, accreditation, and community outreach to increase the value and understanding of interior design as a profession that enhances business value and positively impacts the health and well-being of people’s lives every day.

About IA Interior Architects:

The largest architectural firm in the world focused on interiors, IA’s goal has always been to improve lives through visionary design and innovation. Since 1984, we have been translating client goals, brand, and culture into environments built around people, processes, technologies, and business drivers. As architects, designers, strategists, technologists, and environmental specialists, we align business strategies and core values with the dynamic use of space. We are employee owned, and our professionals are highly invested in the firm and clients. Through our integrated services, we work alongside our clients to resolve complex issues and design innovative, user-centric environments where people thrive. For more information, visit