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Pricilla Velez
Priscilla Velez

Interior design student wins Donghia scholarship

By James Benavides
Public Affairs Specialist

(Aug. 10, 2007)--UTSA senior interior design major Priscilla Velez was named one of 11 Donghia Foundation scholarship recipients for the 2007-2008 academic year.

The El Paso native moved to San Antonio to further her education and worked a part-time job to make ends meet. With the financial assistance from the scholarship, Velez now can focus in her senior year on mastering her art and exploring career opportunities in interior design.

Awarded by the estate of Angelo Donghia, founder of a New York furniture and textile company, the scholarship awards up to 15 scholarships annually, ranging from $10,000 to $30,000, to cover students' tuition, housing and supplies, such as expensive design software. Applicants from accredited interior design programs must submit a portfolio including a residential and a commercial design project, along with a personal statement on how the scholarship will assist in their studies. The portfolio goes through a blind jury review and scholarship winners are chosen.

"I was certainly in disbelief," said Velez, on learning of her scholarship award. "It was really surreal... one of those things you think can never happen to you, but you are sure glad it did."

Velez moved to San Antonio in 2004 to study interior design at UTSA. It was a difficult decision, she says, as an only child leaving her family behind and having to pay for her college expenses on her own. Her tenacity has helped her maintain a 3.42 grade point average and earn a place on the National Dean's List three years in a row.

"Without the help of friends, family, teachers, administrators and classmates, I would not be at this point," said Velez.

Velez will return for fall classes at UTSA after a summer in Mexico City, where she participated in a five-week exchange program in urban revitalization with the Universidad Autónoma Nacional de Mexico, the University of Columbia at Bogotá and the University of Puerto Rico.

"Priscilla is a bright and hard working student," says Irina Solovyova, assistant professor of interior design in the UTSA College of Architecture. "She exhibits all the qualities of a good designer. She produces creative and thoughtful design work and possesses good technical and interpersonal skills. She is a positive, enthusiastic and talented designer, devoted to the profession. We are very happy for Priscilla and would like to see more of our exceptional students receive Donghia and similar awards in the future."

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