Yorkville’s 2019 President Award-Winning BID Grad Juggled Full-Time Job, New Marriage, Pregnancy and Camper Van Conversion on Way to Top of Class

Alumni Success

July 29, 2019

As winner of Yorkville University’s 2019 President’s Award for the Bachelor of Interior Design program, Laura Goodsman was already considered top of her class.



The fact that the multi-tasking 24 year old from Regina was able to secure the highest cumulative grade point average in her graduating class while also juggling a full-time job, a brand new marriage, and a pregnancy – not to mention an ’80s van-to-camper conversion – only makes her accomplishments that much more impressive.


“I didn’t have a life at times, but I did it,” she laughed.


“What I really liked about Yorkville is that you can do it however you want to do it. And I just loved being able to do it online and at my own pace.”


For Goodsman, who grew up in a small town outside Regina, interior design wasn’t something she grew up always knowing she wanted to pursue as a career.


As skilled in math as she is in the arts, she said even her high school guidance counsellor had difficulty pegging her interests and aptitudes.


“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I’m very practical, but I’ve also always had a very creative side,” she said, crediting her father, a framer by trade, for instilling in her an interest in architecture and design from a young age.


“Growing up, he built our house and he would always show me his house plans and all that stuff. Even going on trips, he would point out cool architecture. So, I’ve always been interested in that sort of thing.”


It was in the pursuit of those interests that Goodsman decided to enrol in Interior Design Technology studies at Lakeland College after graduating high school – a diploma program she only later learned would not earn her the credentials required to gain her certification in the field.


“It was diploma, not a degree – and I didn’t understand at that time that a degree was going to be needed to get certified,” she said, noting that she nevertheless enjoyed the program and was able to leverage her diploma into a job at SaskPower.


As a Facilities Planner for Saskatchewan’s principal electric utility, Goodsman spent three years designing office space for the crown corporation’s 4,000 employees based all around the province.


“It was a good base, but it ultimately wasn’t the right fit,” she said of the experience. “It wasn’t creatively fulfilling for me.”


It was during her time at SaskPower, however, that Goodsman met an interior designer who suggested she pursue her Bachelor of Interior Design through Yorkville’s predecessor, the RCC Institute of Technology.


The program was immediately appealing to Goodsman for two important reasons:


1) The fact it was online meant she could continue working her full-time job in Regina, where the newlywed had settled with her husband, Damen; and


2) She was able to transfer many of the credits from her Lakeland diploma over to Yorkville to count towards her degree.


Once enrolled in the Bachelor of Interior Design degree program at Yorkville, Goodsman decided to dive right in, taking as many courses at once as possible, while continuing to work full-time – first at SaskPower, then at 1080 Architecture, Planning + Interiors, where she’s worked as an Intern Designer since October 2018.


“I’m pretty driven, so I wanted to take a lot of courses and get it done,” she said, noting that she’s found her position at 1080 Architecture – where she’s been tasked with primarily commercial interior design work including health care, education and corporate offices ­– a “way better fit” for her professionally.


Adding to Goodsman’s incentive to finish her degree quickly, she said, was the fact that she got pregnant with her first child in the middle of her studies.



“I was lucky, because after the first three months, I was feeling a lot better. And all I really wanted was to get (my degree) done before the baby came, so it was extra motivation,” she laughed, noting that she gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Dhea on May 22, six weeks after completing her Yorkville studies.


While admitting all that juggling was a tough adjustment at first, those initial struggles didn’t stop Goodsman from pursuing her interests outside the workplace and classroom.


In the summer of 2017, she and Damen bought a “disgusting” 1980s-era Ford Econoline van to transform into a stylish camper.


“My husband loves old vehicles and tinkering around with them, so I said, ‘If you want to buy a van and fix it to run, I’ll do the interior,’” she recalled of the project.



“That was my trade off, because I didn’t want to be camping in an ’80s van with gross carpet and old velour – that’s what it was when we first bought it and it was just disgusting. So we ripped all that out.”


Having purchased the van in May and wanting to have it in usable shape in time for a mid-July camping trip, Goodsman said she opted to keep the project as uncomplicated as possible – forgoing plumbing for a simple bed and storage.


“We had a very tight deadline, so we worked on it two months straight,” she said. “There were certain things we kept – including the seats, and the trim around the windows and the blinds, which were custom.”


Also on a tight budget, Goodsman said the majority of the work that did get completed was done in wood.



First came the floors, which were made out of plywood cut down into two-inch strips to make it look like plank flooring. Next came the walls, which were likewise fashioned from sheets of plywood cut out from templates based on the van’s existing walls. Lastly the ceiling, which, again like the floors, were made from plywood ripped down into two-inch strips.


“We didn’t spend a lot of money on it, because we didn’t want to,” Goodsman said of the project, which nevertheless resulted in relatively luxurious-looking camping accommodations.



“We loved doing this project together. It’s kind of a fun thing to do, because it’s not a huge project like a house renovation.”


Now, with her degree under her belt and baby Dhea in her arms, Goodsman said she’s looking forward to tackling her next goals: Earning her interior design certification as soon as she can, and converting yet another vintage van into a camper ­– only this time, a more baby-friendly one complete with plumbing.


“To get certified in interior design, there are three exams I have to write and quite a few hours I have to log, so will I finish that after my maternity leave,” she said, noting that, in the meantime, she and her husband have purchased another Ford Econoline to convert – this time a circa-1970s one.


“I think it’s actually in worse shape than the last one, but it’s a high top, so it has space for a bed up top, and it has a kitchen and potential for a bathroom,” she added.


“It’s gonna need a ton of work, but we’re looking forward to it.”