You Get Back What You Give
It’s often noted that once you are part of the College of Design community, you are forever a part of a tightly woven family, a family of designers that spans generations, professions, continents, and limitless passion. It’s living a Designlife.
Kimberly Siran [MLAR ’97] sees the value and benefits of staying connected and is truly living the Designlife. Recently, Siran established the Kimberly J. Siran Landscape Architecture Graduate Award Endowment. “This is my way of giving back in a specific way that will provide students the opportunity for higher education that I received,” Siran says. The scholarship is for a student pursing a graduate degree in landscape architecture and is merit-based with consideration to need. Additionally, preference will be given to first-generation college students and special consideration will be given to a student who has overcome challenges and for those raised by a single parent.
Siran is the only member of her family to have attended college. While higher education wasn’t a concern in her family, her appreciation for the opportunities it offers her runs deep. Siran says, “I always had this desire to see and do more. I think it’s the passion—it’s ingrained in [me], a saturation that [I] feel here [at the College]. Being the one that went to college in my family has helped me appreciate everything as well.” Siran says that her mom’s financial wisdom was beneficial, and seeking out different types of financial support for college made a major difference. “Without the small grants, scholarships, and even teaching assistantships that I had, the opportunity for higher education would not have been possible.”
“You get back what you give. No matter what it is. I feel like I have a lot to give, and even if I’m not directly getting back, in some ways the universe gives you back what you give. Even if it’s an hour or $100 or $25 dollars—it’s not about the amount, it’s about the purpose.” —Kimberly Siran
After receiving her undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University, Siran enrolled in the Master’s of Landscape Architecture at the College of Design. She has since continued her connections and relationships with the College and local design community in a myriad of capacities, including as past Chair of the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board and a past member of the Wake County Planning Board. Most recently, she was appointed to the NC State University Board of Visitors. In 2005, she opened her own design firm, Coaly Design.
Siran has also served as an adjunct professor at the college, is an annual contributor to the Designlife Fund, serves on the Leaders Council, has mentored students and sponsored students to participate in college events, and hires students to work in her practice. Siran’s support is a natural extension of who she is and an integral part of her life. She doesn’t need a reason to give—“You get back what you give. No matter what it is. I feel like I have a lot to give, and even if I’m not directly getting back, in some ways the universe gives you back what you give. Even if it’s an hour or $100 or $25 dollars—it’s not about the amount, it’s about the purpose.”
This eagerness to give came at least in part from Siran’s family, who instilled in her the importance of volunteering and community relationships. “I had great influences in my family—my grandfather was a township supervisor of 25+ years, and my mother was actively involved in volunteering with our church, school, and local politics. She has always been a role model as a strong, independent female having a voice and influence.”
“Volunteering and giving back—whether it’s monetary or of my time—it goes back to appreciation, feeling that even if it’s a small impact that I am making on a student, I’m honored, and I know that even a small contribution can make a lifetime of difference,” states Siran. “When I was 22, I was on the Wake County Planning Board, and I had a certain set of skills that I could offer. I may not have been 45 with a lot of experience; however, time and participation are important.”
“As my success and achievements as a businesswoman have grown, I’ve been able to reflect on the many influences that have allowed me to become the person I am. My family, friends, teachers, employers, and all the many mentors—personally and professionally—who played a valuable role,” Siran says. “I didn’t get here alone.”