Hand selected by an esteemed panel of judges, Thermador is thrilled to share the recipients of its second annual Diversity in Design Pipeline scholarship and mentorship program in partnership with the Interior Design Society. This group of students demonstrate passion, perspective, and design vision, and will receive a scholarship and year-long mentorship from a team of experienced design professionals.

Read on to learn more about this initiative and meet the students and their mentors.

What is the Diversity in Design Pipeline?

The Diversity in Design Pipeline mentorship program and scholarship was designed to empower and provide resources for students from underrepresented backgrounds looking to pursue a career in the interior design industry. Five recipients received a $10,000 scholarship, as well access to a group of hand-picked industry professionals to serve as mentors during the students’ final year of school. Also included in the program are bi-monthly forum meetings providing career guidance, a one-year student membership to the Interior Design Society, as well as exclusive access to industry events, resources, and trainings.

Thermador is proud to work alongside a talented pool of students and designers and looks forward to an amazing year ahead. Let’s meet the students and mentors!

Meet The Scholarship Recipients

Our first student is Angelica Dela Roca, a student majoring in Interior Design at Arizona State University. Angelica’s primary goal for her post-graduate career is to join a design firm that supports growth, change, innovation, and inclusivity. She will also be preparing to take the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, as well as completing the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) licensing exam to help launch her career. Angelica’s long term career goal is to open her own design firm to bring the perspective of a Filipina woman into the design industry, which she plans to do by exploring her culture through traveling and communicating with others.

Marlena Rhinehart is currently participating in Pellissippi State Community College’s “2-plus-2” program, which stacks her first two years learning about residential design there with two years taking satellite courses focused on commercial design from East Tennessee State University. To further her education, she wishes to pursue a master’s degree and take the NCIDQ licensing exam. After graduating, Marlena hopes to have a career as a contract interior designer at a firm that will allow her to design for both residential and commercial spaces. Eventually, she wants to own her own design firm that will also service international clients. She is heavily influenced by nature in her designs, always striving to include useful harmonious designs and incorporate culturally relevant and accessible elements.

As an Interior Architecture major at California State University, Long Beach, Sarah Pascarella is especially passionate about and inspired by travel and environmentally friendly design. Post-graduation, she aims to travel and learn from international designers, especially in Italy, to honor her family’s heritage. Her excitement for travel extends into her career goals, which include opening her own design firm that will create extremely niche and eclectic international vacation homes. She also dreams of creating branded set design pop-up spaces for entertainment companies.

Celia Pena is a current Interior Architecture and Design student at Florida State University with a minor in Hospitality Management. She is the current President of the Interior Design Student Organization at FSU, where her main goal is to rebuild a sense of community and ease through a mentorship program, workshops and networking events. Her career goals include opening her own design firm, and to pursue a specialized career path in homeless housing design. Following her graduation, she wishes to join a firm that will allow her to gain experience in either retail or hospitality commercial spaces or residential design.

Our fifth recipient is Nadia Nassar, a student majoring in Interior Design at Arizona State University. Her main interests in the design world are focused on residential and hospitality design, correlating with her post-graduation goals of joining a boutique residential design firm in Arizona. She also wishes to start her master’s degree and someday own her own design firm and design houses across the United States.

Meet The Mentors

Cassandra Brunson is President & Design Principle of her own design firm, Design+. She is based in Winston Salem, South Carolina, where she specializes in residential and commercial design. She has over a decade of experience in custom furniture design, space planning, 3D rendering and full-scale renovation projects. In addition to managing her design firm, she is also an adjunct professor at Forsyth Technical Community College teaching Professional Practices, demonstrating her passion for paying it forward.

Kendra Rhoulhac is an Interior Designer at Interiors by Brown, based in Boca Raton, Florida. She has over 17 years of experience in the design industry focusing on luxury residential design and also has a background as a U.S Army Veteran. She is also an Allied Member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), and a LEED AP with a specialty in Green Building Design and Construction.

Liz Toombs is President, Owner and Lead Decorator of PDR Interiors. She is based in Lexington, Kentucky where her niche is in sorority housing, having completed over 90 projects in various college campus across 25 states. She is a former adjunct professor at the University of Kentucky and mentor for the Alpha Gamma Delta fraternity’s Empower Program.

Michael Cox is the Owner of foley&cox interiors, based in New York, New York. Michael worked in various Home divisions of Polo/Ralph Lauren for 10 years, while production management refined his technical knowledge of manufacturing furniture, fabric, wallpaper, lighting, and paint. As Design Director of furniture, he broadened his historical understanding and expertise in countries as diverse as Indonesia, England, Bali, France, and the Philippines. In 2002, Michael and Mary Foley founded foley&cox and in 2007 launched foley&cox home.

Shelly Preziosi is Owner and Principle of Shelly Preziosi Designs Inc. Based in Boca Raton, Florida, her focus is on modern interior designs that place an emphasis on overall client need. Her approach to client work is all encompassing, taking into account their lifestyle and usage of their spaces. She designs whole homes, bathrooms and kitchens, specializing in new construction and remodels.

This year’s judging panel includes Director of Editorial Special Projects at House Beautiful Carisha Swanson, HGTV Design Star Alum Justin Q. Williams, International Designer Tyler Wisler, Interior Design Magazine’s Best of Year David Charette and Award-Winning Brazilian Interior Designer Juliana Oliveira.

For more information on last year’s Diversity in Design Pipeline recipients, visit https://blog.thermador.com/meet-the-thermador-diversity-in-design-pipeline-scholarship-recipients/.