Two students in College of DuPage’s Interior Design program recently received the new Pathway Healthcare Design Studio Scholarship Award from Pathway to Living, a Chicago-based developer, owner and operator of senior living communities.
Emily Bruere (Wheaton) and Jessica Leeper (Clarendon Hills) were each awarded $250 to support their studies. The scholarship is available to students in COD’s Healthcare Design Studio course, which was offered for the first time in fall 2018 to prepare students for work in the sector of senior living and health care design.
“It’s a really good feeling to be recognized,” Leeper said. “Many students, including myself, sacrifice jobs and other opportunities to return to school, so it’s great when the work we do is rewarded.”
Leeper said her next step is to graduate from COD this summer and become an entry-level designer at a residential design firm, with a long-term plan of opening her own business.
Bruere said her experience in the class enhanced her perspective on the intricacies of working in the senior living and health care field.
“It helped me look at the industry of health care design differently,” Bruere said. “I wasn’t fully aware of how important it is for us as designers to empower the independence of people, whether they are elderly or have disabilities. That was a really big takeaway.”
COD instructor Suzann Nordstrom, who taught the course, described Bruere and Leeper as two students who strive to raise the bar.
“These students are very well organized and have a confident approach to new concepts,” Nordstrom said. “They have a wide range of abilities and their projects embrace the many skills obtained throughout the program.”
In addition to the scholarship, Pathway to Living is supporting COD’s Interior Design program by providing opportunities for students to tour the firm’s Aspired Living of Westmont community and learn about the challenges and rewards of designing senior living and care facilities.
Carol Frazier, Training and Performance Enhancement Manager at Pathway to Living, said the objective of the Healthcare Design Studio course aligns with Pathway to Living’s mission.
“We want to change the way society thinks about senior living,” Frazier said. “To do so, we need other organizations and institutions who are thinking about what elderhood will look like in the future for active senior citizens who want to celebrate life. The fact that we have this initiative with COD is consistent with what we want to accomplish.”
Jane Kielb, Interior Design Program Coordinator at COD, said having the scholarship will further improve the quality of work moving forward and that receiving recognition from Pathway to Living will be great for the program.
“When students enter the workforce, they will be able to say that they worked with a reputable firm,” Kielb said. “It adds to credibility when they look for jobs.”