For one of this year’s Bachelor of Interior Design co-valedictorians, the chance to study at Yorkville University presented an opportunity to chase her passion.
After obtaining her Master’s degree in financial management, Anna Gurina worked for seven years in finance and investor relations before a move to Canada prompted her to make a change and pursue a second career in interior design.
“I am fostering a dream of becoming one of the leaders in the interior design industry – creating interiors that improve the people’s well-being, strengthen their communities and preserve the natural environment,” said the mother of two.
Since enrolling at Yorkville, Gurina has made great strides toward that goal. As a student, she not only worked hard to maintain a high level of academic success, but also actively participated in Dean’s Council meetings, tutored her peers, and was successfully involved in the university’s campus renovation as part of her internship in 2021.
In addition to those academic achievements, Gurina also received her LEED Green Associate designation in 2021 and is a now student member of professional organizations such as the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO), the Interior Designers of Canad (IDC) and the International Interior Design Association (IIDA).
Gurina recently sat down to reflect on her time at Yorkville University and her plans for the future. Here’s what she had to say:
1. What brought you to Yorkville University? Where were you in your life/career when you decided to continue your studies with us?
Yorkville University has given me an excellent opportunity for a career change. I have always had a passion for design and decided to pursue a career as an interior designer after moving to Canada. I had previous experience working in the financial sector, but moving to another country has made me think that it was a good chance to start a new life and a new career as well.
Yorkville University offered me a flexible year-round program that I could take either on-campus or online. I was already married and had two children, and the program worked perfectly for my busy lifestyle. It allowed me to manage my studies and personal time, and finally pursue my dreams.
2. What made you decide to pursue your studies in Interior Design?
I have always had a passion for design – a passion I tried to realize in the décor of the houses that I moved to, in my personal style, in presentation and marketing materials I made throughout my previous career, and in my garden and others.
I also like to travel, and breathtaking architecture, interiors, art, museums, and theatres were always a source of inspiration for me.
I enjoyed observing how different cultures and their heritage are reflected in interior designs and architecture worldwide.
I also love watching how projects come to life and seeing when creative ideas put on paper turn into beautiful interiors and architecture – well-planned, efficient and welcoming.
It was a hard step for me to make, deciding to study towards another degree. Before enrolling at Yorkville, I took an interior design certificate course, and the results were so rewarding that I decided to study further and to become a professional in that field.
3. What is the most important thing you’re taking away from your studies at Yorkville University?
Before beginning my studies, I did not realize how dramatic a role interior designers play in our communities, in society, and in the world. I think, for me, that was the most significant takeaway from my studies.
As interior designers, we design for people, for their well-being, and therefore it is crucially important to be proficient in what we do. Efficient interior design can solve people’s problems and contribute to social justice in the built environment. By creating environmentally friendly design solutions, we help our planet and preserve natural resources for us and for future generations. We are creative people and influencers that affect the further direction of development of the interior design industry, and it is our responsibility to use this power wisely.
4. What are your plans after graduation, both immediate and long term?
Have a rest and keep going. I want to develop my career and, in the beginning, will focus on gaining experience. I plan to work in an interior design firm with professionals and continue my education in the field. My priority will be commercial design and large-scale projects – workspaces, retail, healthcare, hospitality sector, and others.
Within the next three years, I plan to get my NCIDQ certification and LEED AP accreditation to help me grow as a professional. In the long-term perspective, I dream of my own interior design business focusing on sustainability and human-centred design.
5. If you offered one piece of advice to an incoming student, what would that be?
Dare to dream! Yes, completing your degree will require effort, but the results will be rewarding. It will open new doors to you and unlimited opportunities. Just dare to dream and work on it and all will come.
Do not be afraid of challenges – embrace them, and you will become stronger. Work hard, and don’t be too timid to ask for help. At Yorkville University, you will become a part of a community that will always help you and support you when needed.
Like John Lennon once said: “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”