In front of a room of Ontario’s leading interior designers, Bachelor of Interior Design student, Caitlin Cohen was awarded the prestigious 2017 Norma Ruth Ridley Scholarship.
The presentation was made at the 2017 ARIDO Annual General Meeting on March 22, 2017 and although Caitlin, who is in her tenth term of Yorkville University’s Bachelor of Interior Design (formerly offered through RCC Institute of Technology) said she isn’t one for attention and the presentation was a bit nerve-wracking, to be recognized by the industry was exciting.
“I think it is a great way to take my first steps into the industry and a great way to get forward,” Caitlin said. “I always am striving to better myself and this was a true test of that.”
The Norma Ruth Ridley Scholarship, worth $2000, is presented to a student from one of the eleven ARIDO recognized Interior Design Programs in Ontario. ARIDO is the professional body for interior designers here in Ontario. Each school nominated one student in their final year of study to be considered by the ARIDO Scholarship Selection Committee. Those students completed a design project, this year it was to design the common spaces of a hospice. Caitlin’s design was inspired by Antelope Canyon in the American Southwest, and she created a tranquil and relaxing facility design. Of the 11 submissions, the top three were chosen for interviews with the scholarship panel. Candidates were judged based on academic achievement, professionalism, volunteer efforts and community involvement, character and communication and Caitlin was deemed the winner.
Erin Melvin, the Program Chair for the Bachelor of Interior Design said Caitlin’s win is a reflection of her talent, commitment and also the program and faculty.
“Caitlin is an incredibly strong student. she has been academically very strong since she started at achool.. she is also very involved in the industry and in ARIDO,” Erin said, adding that the win also reflects the school and the team in the BID program. “We couldn’t be more proud of her. This is the first time that a student from [Yorkville’s BID program] has won the Norma Ruth Ridley Scholarship.”
Despite her success, Caitlin’s path to the BID wasn’t cut-and-dry. She also holds a degree in art history but explained that early on in that degree she knew she wanted to take a different path and that she wanted to pursue her passion for interior design.
“I have always been involved in the design industry,” Caitlin said. “ My family business is in the design industry, so I kind of grew up around designers and decorators and architects, so I always knew I wanted to do something in this industry.”
She went out on a limb and applied for an internship at Gluckstein Design, which she was selected for, and she continued to work there until she graduated from her art history degree. Then she moved right into the Bachelor of Interior Design. During her studies in this rigorous program, Caitlin demonstrated continuous academic excellence, achieving both the Honour’s and President’s List in all terms completed to date.
“I absolutely love the program, and I try to immerse myself in the program as much as possible,” she said. “Whether it is doing things in school and trying to get involved in committees there or working at IDEX or the Interior Design (Show) and volunteering there.”
Caitlin was recently one of a number of BID students who were involved in a Habitat for Humanity build in Brampton. All of this is important, she said, because it is fun, it is an opportunity to network and could lead to connections, an internship or even job opportunities.
“Now that I have found interior design and realize how passionate I am about it, I want to see what the whole industry has to offer,” Caitlin said. “I like the idea of being involved and feeling a part of this community and this industry.”
The last two terms of the BID are an internship, which Caitlin plans to do in New York. She will graduate from the Bachelor of Interior Design in December at which time she hopes to work in commercial workspace design.