“Ever since I was little, I was captivated by design.”
This is how Marymount University Interior Design student Sidnia Garcia began her winning essay as part of the application process for the Illuminating Engineering Society District of Columbia Section (IESDC) Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship.
The merit-based scholarship recognizes future leaders in the fields of lighting and electrical design and is open to women, persons of color and LGBTQ+ individuals enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs across the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region. The award is sponsored by MCLA, Inc., a women-owned architectural lighting design firm located in the District.
“I applied for this scholarship because I was inspired by how it celebrates diversity and aims to recognize the merits of diverse individuals in the design industry,” Garcia explained.
Garcia claimed the $1,000 scholarship, and in her essay, she described finding her passion for interior design as a child in her native country of Nicaragua. She recalls the hardships of pursuing a field that many around her considered “unnecessary,” and persevering through a lack of access to resources.
“My cultural heritage and upbringing in my home country have had a major influence on my design philosophy and process,” Garcia said. “Growing up in Nicaragua really taught me not to be judgmental about what’s lacking but to be creative with what’s available, and gave me a new lens to look through when formulating design solutions.”
During the IESDC’s seventh annual Candela Awards on November 4, Garcia was honored as this year’s scholarship recipient. She was joined in attendance by Dr. Robert Meden, tenured Professor of Interior Design and former Chair of the Department of Interior Design at Marymount University.
“In class, Sidnia was fascinated not just by the fact one could illuminate a space, but the way light could be manipulated to create a particular human response,” Dr. Meden said. “Her inquisitiveness and yearning to want to know more was exhibited throughout the course, especially in our individual critiques and studio project meetings. Congratulations, Sidnia!”
Garcia plans to use her scholarship to pursue additional lighting design courses focused on sustainability, neurodiversity and user-centered design.
“It brings me gratitude and joy as I’m being recognized for what I am and where I come from, and the merits that I’ve accomplished thanks to that background,” she explained. “More than anything, it encourages me to celebrate the stories of all people from all backgrounds as these stories only add to a more inclusive, authentic and genuine design community.”