Earlier this year, the SmithGroup Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Scholarship Program was established to support and mentor students from historically underrepresented demographics in architecture, interior design, planning, landscape architecture, and engineering.  The program’s mission is to provide these students with the opportunity to attain their professional goals while advancing the architecture/engineering/construction (AEC) industry and improving the built environment.

The scholarship winners were selected recently from a pool of candidates who spent their summers as interns in SmithGroup offices around the United States. Each winner will receive a one-time award of $6,000 to offset their tuition costs. The following individuals were scholarship recipients:

Jonathan Choi is pursuing a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Arizona. He expects to graduate in December 2018. Choi worked in the Phoenix office this summer.

Lorena De Almeida is a senior at Calvin College. She will earn a degree in engineering with a civil and environmental concentration and will graduate in May 2019. De Almeida spent her summer at Smith Group’s Madison office.

Qudus Lawal is a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He intends to graduate in December 2018 with a degree in civil engineering. Lawal interned in the Chicago office.

Stephanie Onwenu is a senior at Michigan State University. She will earn her bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture in December 2018 and then complete a master’s in environmental design in May 2019. Onwenu spent her summer in the firm’s Ann Arbor office.

Everritt Phillips is a senior at the University of Michigan. He will earn his bachelor’s in architecture in May 2019. Phillips served as an intern in SmithGroup’s Detroit office.

Scholarship candidates were evaluated on their resume, work performance, and personal narratives describing their educational pursuits, career aspirations, and personal interests.

According to SmithGroup officials, this scholarship program is part of a broader firm strategy to create a framework that addresses the holistic impact that equity, diversity, and inclusion have in creating an engaged workplace culture, prioritizing talent development and retention and, ultimately, elevating design excellence. This effort is being led by Rosa Sheng, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, the firm’s director of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

“Equity is one of the core values of our firm, so the establishment of this scholarship program visibly demonstrates our desire to minimize barriers to maximize the potential for success,” says Sheng. “Providing scholarships to these highly talented individuals is a sign of our commitment to design a better future by directly addressing the industry-wide challenges of attracting the best and most diverse talent.”