The Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO) has recognized not one, but two Yorkville University students with awards for leadership and volunteerism this year.
“It is an honour to be recognized as the Gary Hewson Award recipient because of what Gary stood for within the profession,” Ahani said of her award’s namesake – a late ARIDO past-president who touched the lives of many in Ontario’s interior design community with his dedication to volunteerism and the mentoring of young professionals.
Ahani was one of six winners of this year’s Gary Hewson Award, which is presented each fall to one interior design student from each of ARIDO’s recognized programs (Yorkville University, OCADU, and Conestoga, Humber, Fanshawe, Algonquin, and Sheridan colleges) who has demonstrated “exemplary peer mentorship, leadership and volunteerism in their community.”
Ahani – who earned her Master’s in Architecture in her native Iran – believes her nomination stemmed from her volunteer work on a number of different projects during her time at Yorkville.
In addition to serving as the BID student representative on Yorkville’s Academic Council, she is also a member of the university’s Student Activity Committee and Student Dean Council, and ARIDO’s Career Xpress Committee.
She also recently took a one-term hiatus from her BID studies at Yorkville to volunteer for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) as a personal, one-on-one guide – a passion project she took up as research for her thesis.
“For my thesis, I wanted to create a facility for people with visual impairment needs, so I took a term off to volunteer for the CNIB and learn more about those peoples’ world and their needs,” she said, noting that the experience helped her better understand the visually impaired’s experience of different spaces, and how they comprehend those spaces with their other senses.
“I understood they want to be inclusive not exclusive, so I changed my topic to create facilities and spaces that are accessible and useable for everyone.”
Ahani and her fellow recipients of the Gary Hewson Memorial Award each received tickets to the 2019 ARIDO Awards Gala on Oct. 24 – and event she said she was excited to attend in order to connect and network with other professionals in the interior design industry.
Janny Do, meanwhile, received the $500 CTI Working Environments Student Scholarship, which recognizes students who “go beyond the written curriculum,” exemplifying “dedication and enthusiasm” in giving back to their community and volunteering for ARIDO.
“I was very honoured to receive the scholarship, because it tells me that hard work does pay off,” said Do, who was nominated for the award in recognition of her leadership work with Habitat for Humanity.
“Being part of this community and being in this field not only allows me to gain, but it allows me to bring other people to contribute to the community.”
Now in her last term of the BID program, Do said her work with Habitat – a non-profit that builds homes for families in need of affordable housing – began when she gathered a group of 12 Yorkville classmates to help with a building project in east Scarborough’s Pinery Trail community.
“Our team did really well, we were up in tight crawl spaces and all of that – but we had a lot of fun and got a lot of great experience seeing how the interior design process starts and how the project gets put together,” she said of the March 2018 project.
So inspired was she by that initial experience, in fact, that Do said she decided connect with Habitat’s team leader to sign up for more volunteer hours.
“Whenever they needed us, she’d contact me and I’d put a team together,” she added. “Not only do we students get our volunteer hours and some hands-on experience, but we’re also giving back to the community – so it’s a win-win situation.”