Today@Sam Article

Interior Design Students Attend Black History Designer Symposium

April 21, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd

SHSU interior design students Kristopher Jones, Joshua Gaona and Rebecca Oseni pose with keynote speaker and IIDA CEO, Cheryl Durst (second from right).In a momentous journey of discovery, Kristopher Jones, Joshua Gaona and Rebecca Oseni - interior design students in the Department of Human Sciences at Sam Houston State University - embarked on a life-changing trip to attend the inaugural Black History Designer Symposium, A Seat at the Table hosted by Texas Christian University's Department of Design.

The event was a significant gathering, bringing together the voices of the Black design industry and the local community. It was a melting pot of creativity, featuring TCU students, faculty and industry experts, as well as design students from other Texas universities and minority high school students.

“The kindness and hospitality of everyone at TCU was a true gift,” Jones said. “We were greeted with open arms and big smiles. Our presence was appreciated, and I could feel it in the room.”

The symposium was an empowering experience that aimed to equip minority students in design with the necessary tools to thrive in the industry. They were able to engage in dynamic discussions with a panel of five local designers hailing from various disciplines such as interior design, architecture, graphic design and fine arts.

The SHSU students had the opportunity to network with industry professionals, meet the keynote speaker, CEO of the International Interior Design Association, Cheryl Durst, and the panel of design experts. They were also able to connect with mentors in the Black design community, sparking new and exciting opportunities.Symposium Pic 2

Tamara Rice, instructor of interior design at TCU, was “blown away” by the SHSU design students' commitment to attending the event. She praised their dedication, passion and sense of community within Sam Houston, encouraging them to attend next year's symposium.

Jones shared that the event helped her to feel confident in her seat at the table as a black female student in interior design.

“I learned the importance of discovering my unique voice in this industry and being unapologetic of who I am as a designer,” Jones said. "I was also able to connect with other Black creatives, hear their experiences and celebrate the achievements that led them there.”

Oseni, one of the SHSU students, described the experience as transformative, as it reminded her to persevere despite any obstacles and strive to make a difference as an African woman in the design industry. She was thrilled with the symposium's focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, an essential aspect of creating a more inclusive design community. Oseni was inspired by architectural firm, Corgan’s Cultural Chair Halima McWilliams’ speech about inclusivity in the field, particularly pertaining to Black designers.

“Sometimes we are made to feel like outcasts as minorities but yet our passion has kept us growing stronger and steadfast even in a field where cultural diversity is low,” she said.

The Black History Design Symposium, A Seat at the Table was a monumental gathering that provided a platform for minority students in design to connect with mentors and industry leaders. The SHSU students' attendance demonstrated their unwavering commitment to diversity, and their participation will undoubtedly inspire other students to do the same. The students are inspired to support the growth of diversity in the field of architecture/design, like Oseni said:

“One day as a Black African woman, I strive to make a difference by impacting people’s lives in every aspect as I become a part of the slowly growing diversity in the field of architecture/design. Cheers to diversity, equity and inclusion!”

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