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Dec 10, 2021 By IIDA HQ
Designing for the Greater Good
Katrina Alvarez and Rai Savage share their inspirations and aspirations in design—what they’ve connected with in their education and how they plan to leave a mark
By IIDA HQ Dec 10, 2021
Published in Foundation

The 2021 IIDA John J. Nelson Sr. Legacy Scholarship awardees are Katrina Alvarez, Student IIDA, of the New York Institute of Technology and Rai Savage, Student IIDA, at Maryville University. Each student will receive $10,000 in scholarship funds on behalf of the John J. Nelson Sr. Fund, and will be provided a trip to NeoCon 2022 to be honored at the IIDA annual meeting.

This scholarship fund was established to support diversity and further the study of interior design and architecture for students of African American descent. The video prompt for this year encouraged students to articulate how the power of design has already impacted their lives, and how they will leverage careers in design to positively impact future clients and community.

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This year’s scholarship recipients showcase both thoughtful and prolific talents with a desire to learn, they’re representative of the future of our industry—a future filled with voices and perspectives that will influence and inspire our field and beyond.
John J. Nelson Sr.
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John J. Nelson Sr.

John J. Nelson Sr., founder and principal of NELSON, is a known supporter of design education, diversity, and unfettered access to education. The Foundation values Nelson’s history of advocating to increase diversity in design and architecture by championing students of all backgrounds.

Katrina Alvarez, Student IIDA
New York Institute of Technology

Katrina draws inspiration from her home, and the city she lives in, New York, and is inspired by all aspects of design from fashion and architecture to art and food. As a designer, she wants to integrate a comprehensive, sustainable, and biophilic approach for designing for people with disabilities, and pursue continued mentoring opportunities.

Rai Savage, Student IIDA
Maryville University

Rai’s ultimate goal is to own her own design firm. Through projects in school, Rai has been inspired to form a network of designers, architects, and other industry professionals to create a non-profit organization supporting black owned businesses to help build community wealth and generate community resources she also hopes to launch a mentoring program for students to inspire interest in in the design industry for black students that may otherwise not be exposed to these careers.


Learn more about the John J. Nelson Sr. Legacy Scholarship Award and other scholarship funds available to IIDA members here.

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