Aspiring Designers Share a Dream
“It’s been an experience,” says rising senior Olivia Suarez-Arellano of her week at Design Camp. Suarez-Arellano spent the week with 90 other high school students attending Design Immersions Camp and working on a range of projects across the disciplines offered at the College of Design: art + design, design studies, graphic design, architecture, and industrial design. “It’s been pretty fun, and I have enjoyed it,” she exclaims.
Suarez-Arellano is from Siler City, NC, and has aspirations to be the first in her family to attend college. Her focus areas are industrial design or visual communication. Although her high school offers basic art courses, she says, “they don’t talk much about the other offers of design that are available.” Which is why she has been exploring options by participating in various summer programs, like Design Camp, to learn more and determine a future career path. She knows that whatever she decides, it will involve working with her hands, and, in addition, her observation of her parents’ experience has led to her interest in design for the agricultural field. She is hoping to address the difficulties of the farming industry that provides financial support to her family but also has a lot of challenges and safety concerns.
Suarez-Arellano is drawn to industrial design because, she says, “you see what is wrong and you fix it. I think about this for the problems in agriculture. There are a lot of things that are not right in the machinery and such—I can do something to fix it.”
Suarez-Arellano was able to attend this week’s camp after receiving the Marvin and Cindy Malecha Dream Scholarship. This need-based scholarship is intended to assist those who wish to experience design through the camp experience but who might not otherwise be able to afford it. Without this opportunity, attending camp would not have been possible for her. “I come from a family of six, and we don’t have a lot of money to go around, especially for study. My older sister wasn’t able to attend college because we can’t afford it. For me to attend a camp because of a scholarship to help me boost my thinking is great. It means so much to me,” she exclaims.
Another aspiring designer, Dwight Maxwell, a rising junior from Orlando, FL, also has the opportunity to experience the week-long camp that he describes as “pretty awesome. [It’s been] exhausting at times, but really fun.” He, too, was the recipient of the “dream scholarship.”
Maxwell has always enjoyed creativity and is interested in pursuing industrial design in college. Through his personal research of college programs that offer design, he found out about the design camp here at the College of Design. He is an honor-roll student with ambitions of maintaining high standards in hopes of receiving a full scholarship to the college of his dreams.
Julia Rice, director of the Design Lab, organizes the many design camp experiences and is on the committee to select scholarship recipients. She says, “The students who receive the scholarships arrive with the confidence of knowing that we believe in what they are capable of. Having a scholarship established by our dean emeritus and his wife also sends a message that it is worthwhile and important to support K-12 design education, and to extend access to students in need early on.”
There have been so many influential moments of the camp experience for Maxwell. “I got to work with blue foam, something I’ve always wanted to do, and then work with different tools. This [experience] has definitely strengthened my intention of becoming an industrial designer,” he states. “It’s been great to see how all the other design disciplines work together and interact to create new products—graphic design interacts with industrial design to create something together.”
Suarez-Arellano adds that “the best part is the hands-on approach and being able to put your ideas out there and design your own things.” She also enjoyed the everyday opportunities to learn about new design disciplines and create different projects.
Maxwell shares that each project opened up new knowledge that he used for the next project. “I started with architecture and learned how to use an X-Acto knife and how to plan out buildings. The next day we had design process, and I used my new knowledge about architecture and applied it to making the book. Then the next day in industrial design, I used the previous knowledge gained.”
When asked about the scholarship, he does not hesitate in sharing his appreciation. “[The scholarship] means that it wasn’t a struggle to come here. [My family was] having trouble finding the funds to send me, and my grandparents paid for my travel. I’ve never gotten a scholarship before, and it is so generous of them, and I’m so thankful for what they have given me.”
For Suarez-Arellano and Maxwell, scholarship has allowed them to gain experience, confidence, and a better understanding of future college paths. Both admit that through this experience, they have a stronger awareness of what design is, how it can influence others, and how they can then make a difference.
If you would like to support future design campers and contribute to the Marvin and Cindy Malecha Dream Scholarship, CLICK HERE.