Jul 9th 2020

College of Architecture Student Receives AIA Chicago Foundation Diversity Scholarship

For the second consecutive year, the AIA Chicago Foundation has awarded a diversity scholarship to an Illinois Institute of Technology student. The scholarship, which hopes to promote diverse voices within the architecture profession by providing both financial support and a mentorship program, was awarded to Asiye Yükselen (ARCH 4th Year) along with two other Chicago-based architecture students.

“These students presented heartfelt applications and strong portfolios. With support and mentorship, they can emerge as inspirational leaders of the next generation of architects in our community,” says Fred Brandstrader, AIA Chicago Foundation president.

Yükselen, who came to Chicago from Izmir, Turkey, transferred into the College of Architecture in her third year. Though she had a passion for architecture since visiting Rome; Florence, Italy; and Venice, Italy, on a high school trip, Yükselen initially began studying medicine before realizing she would be happier pursuing architecture.

“Even though I knew my passion for designing, I went to a medical school first, to please my family and the society around me, as medicine is the most well-regarded occupation in Turkey,” says Yükselen. “But after a year, it was so clear that I can only be happy and content if I follow my instincts in architecture.”

Chicago made sense as a place to study architecture, since, in Yükselen’s eyes, the city embraced its architectural history much in the same way that cities like Rome and Istanbul do. In her first year at the College of Architecture, Yükselen has taken part in studios that reflect her goal to create architecture that changes peoples’ lives for the better, including creating a design for a Chicago Public Library branch based on a real site in the Washington Park neighborhood.

“There are thousands of displaced people who lack basic human needs like shelters, schools, community spaces, and more,” says Yükselen. “I believe that architecture can be a powerful catalyst for people and the cities themselves.”