Bachelor of Interior Design student Mandy Wozniak has been given the unique opportunity to bring her thesis project to life via The Hive – a youth-friendly hub of health and social services she was recently commissioned to design in her hometown of Bonnyville, Alberta.
“It’s amazing, because we’ve been working on our thesis projects in class for over a year, and as a student, you’re kind of used to your work never becoming an actual thing,” she said.
“Having this opportunity to utilize my designs in a way that will help people and make a real difference in my local community is the most I could ever ask for. It feels really good to bring my thesis to life.”
As lead designer of The Hive, Wozniak has been tasked by Bonnyville Primary Care Network with the conception and creation of a 5,500 square foot space on the town’s main street, where local agencies and service providers will be able to ensure all area youth’s needs are met through compassion and collaboration.
The two-phased, government-funded project, which is scheduled to be complete this summer, will include a café and lounge area, therapeutic and family counselling spaces, social work and nurse practitioner offices, a clinic, recreation spaces and offices, a kitchen, a fitness studio, a computer lab, an art zone, a welcome desk, accessible washrooms, and waiting rooms, among other amenities.
“If you look at my thesis and then look at the Hive design package, they’re very similar in purpose with their common focus on mental health,” Wozniak said.
“During the research portion of our thesis, we were supposed to dig into our local communities and find somewhere we could make an impact. I’ve always been drawn to mental health issues, so that was the route I went.”
It was also during that research portion of her thesis project that Wozniak said she made first contact with her future employers at Bonnyville Primary Care Network. Part of the thesis assignment, she explained, involved interviewing and surveying local professionals about her proposed project.
“Throughout that process, there were many people in the community who said they were so happy I was looking into this kind of project and that they wished it was really happening,” Wozniak recalled.
“Then Bonnyville PCN reached out to me and they were, like, ‘Hey, we’re looking to make this thing actually happen. Would you design a space for us that we can implement into our local community?’ I was absolutely thrilled.”
Calling the experience of designing The Hive a “surreal” one thus far, Wozniak credits her studies at Yorkville for making her dreams come true.
“I know it’s because of the steps Yorkville takes to set their students up for success that this is happening for me,” she said, noting that she transferred into Yorkville’s Online Bachelor of Interior Design program shortly after graduating from the university’s articulation partner, Lakeland College.
“It’s kind of crazy to think that I’m the lead designer of this project because I’m still in school…but Yorkville makes it really easy to just integrate into the workforce – they set you up for those opportunities to happen, and for that, I’m really thankful.”
Now looking forward to graduating with her degree later this year, Wozniak said she’s excited to launch her career off the momentum she’s already gained while still a student.
In the meantime, she’s already working with a team of accountants and branding experts with the aim of starting up her own business, Salix Studio, where she hopes to specialize in health care and commercial space design.
“I know my work on The Hive is the perfect platform to build off of, and that it really does set me up for success and gets my name out there,” she said.
“It’s a really great opportunity – one that I’ll be forever grateful for.”