COD Interior Design Students Earn Prestigious Awards
By Mike McKissack
College of DuPage Interior Design student Allison Schutz received the Michelle Roberts Student Award in the fifth annual Recognizing Exemplary Design (RED) competition hosted by the Illinois chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA).
During the prestigious industry competition, attended by 300 design community members, Schutz was one of 13 winners chosen from 91 submissions that came from more than 40 Illinois-based design firms, designers and students.
“Winning this award at the IIDA RED competition is very gratifying,” said the Darien resident. “It solidifies my resolve, validates the passion for the dream I’ve had since I was 18 years old and helps me further recognize my own potential.”
Schutz previously earned her bachelor’s degree in graphic design and printing. But after working in the field, she found the work was not as challenging or rewarding as she had hoped and decided to pursue an education in interior design. While she was accepted into a number of graduate schools across the country, Schutz chose the convenience and substantial cost savings provided by attending school locally at College of DuPage. Completing her degree in interior design from COD this May, she plans to find employment in a mid-sized design firm.
For the second year in a row, Schutz was also the first place winner of a design charrette sponsored by the Illinois chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Held at the Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, the one-day event brings together students and emerging professionals for an informative and challenging day of programming and networking.
Schutz said the competition wins help increase her recognition within the industry and validate the quality and value of the education offered through the Interior Design program at COD.
“These competitions provide a great opportunity to network with industry professionals and potential employers,” Schutz said. “Our successes validate not only the skills of the students, but also the skills and experience of the instructors, who provide a lot of support, instill a strong work ethic and drive us to do more than we think we can.”
Earning second place during the ASID charrette were COD Interior Design students Lyra Britton (Lombard) and Karla Herdrich (Aurora).
Britton said the training she’s received at COD prepared her well to face the challenges of the charrette.
“Competitions like the ASID charrette are great because you really learn how to work within a time constraint and manage your time appropriately in order to finish with a strong design and presentation,” she said.
Britton said she always had a passion for creating and putting things together. She chose College of DuPage because it is located close to her home and because she always heard great things about its programs.
“The Interior Design program is amazing,” said Britton. “What sets COD apart from other schools is the instructors. It makes a big difference that the people training us have real-world industry experience.”
Herdrich said she was excited to participate in the prestigious charrette and thrilled with taking second place. She said the competition helped to enhance her education and that today’s successes can help open doors for future students.
"COD students have won a number of different competitions against four-year universities, so it opens design firm's eyes to the level of education COD provides," Herdrich said. "Some firms require a four-year design degree, but these wins might make them more open to a student from COD."
After working in the mental health field for nearly a decade, Herdrich decided to return to school to pursue her lifelong interest in interior design. Herdrich said that in addition to earning an Associate in Applied Science Interior Design at COD, she is also working toward the Interior Lighting and Computer Applications certificates. Upon earning her credentials at COD, she plans to find work in a design firm, preferably in commercial design with a focus on the hospitality field, where she can continue to improve her craft.
“I would absolutely recommend the Interior Design program at COD to other students,” she said. “However, I would warn them that it is not as easy as some expect going into the program. Most classes are project-based and you cannot excel without hard work both inside and outside of the classroom. The teachers have high expectations and standards, and that is a substantial part of what makes this program so good.”
College of DuPage is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Serving approximately 28,000 students each term, College of DuPage is the largest public community college in the state of Illinois. The College grants nine associate degrees and offers more than 170 career and technical certificates in over 50 areas of study.
(Pictured above, from left: Lyra Britton, Allison Schutz and Karla Herdrich.)
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