Eight Students Awarded 2023 Chester and Diana Widom Architectural Education Scholarships

(Sacramento, California)— The California Architectural Foundation and AIA California are honored to announce the recipients of the 2023 Chester and Diana Widom Architectural Education Scholarship, in honor of Paul W. Welch, Jr., also known as the Widom Scholarship.

This Widom Architectural Education Scholarship provides opportunities to community college students from California who are transferring from Community Colleges to accredited architectural schools.

“I am delighted that these eight students, strongly committed to their studies and already demonstrating an aptitude for design, practice, and community building, which architecture entails, are 2023 scholarship recipients,” noted Chester Widom, FAIA, founder of the fund and California State Architect from 2011 through 2018. “Each year, participating in the jury adjudicating these awards, reminds me of the capacity of design as a change agent in individual lives.”

This year’s scholarship recipients along with notes from the jury are:

Arthur Chaldranyan
Arthur already has a strong sense of design. By working on small private projects, he is probably more ready than most to head to the next level.  At an accredited program, the jury believes he can blossom.
Community College: Glendale Community College | Accepted to: Woodbury University, Cal Poly Pomona

Maya Flores-Villagran
Maya is truly amazing, not only in her volunteerism, but her design ideas are unique and innovative.  Quality community outreach; Strong commitment to skill development.
Community College: East Los Angeles College | Accepted to: USC, Cal Poly Pomona, Woodbury, Syracuse

Onna Keller
The jury appreciates her curiosity for architecture and landscape architecture.  Her diverse education is impressive. She discovered her love of architecture in 2020 during COVID-19 and has already accomplished much.
Community College: West Valley College | Accepted to: University of California – Berkeley, Academy of Art University, Arizona State University

Grace Martinez
She is talented and articulate. Her commitment to obtaining an architectural education as well as working in the field, demonstrates she deserves recognition.
Community College: College of the Canyons | Accepted to: Cal Poly Pomona, Woodbury

Mania Minasvad
Mania has all the credentials needed to move to her next phase of obtaining an accredited degree in architecture. She is a strong communicator with a demonstrated love for the profession
Community College: Glendale Community College | Accepted to: Woodbury University

Joseph Ortiz
He has demonstrated that he has the initiative and ability to pursue the discipline in a rigorous, thoughtful manner. He is determined to become an architect.
Community College: East Los Angeles College | Accepted to: Woodbury University

Agustin Pelayo
In the very early stage of his path to architecture, Agustin seems determined to succeed.  He began with a stint in the Navy, then continued to get his education, he is already showing proficiency in his thinking and drawing. His submittal commentary addressing the natural environment is very good.
Community College: College of the Canyons | Accepted to: Woodbury University

Kelsey Vilchis
Kelsey has a real understanding of the built environment and reasons for cultivating good design, as well as a commitment to academia and pursuing licensure. Her early job, history, not within the architectural profession, but very service-oriented, is a strength: it’s a foundation for listening to and managing client expectations.
Community College: College of the Canyons | Accepted to: Cal Poly Pomona

The 2023 Widom Architectural Education Scholarship jury was composed of:

Sylvia Kwan, FAIA LEED AP NCARB- Principal, DLR Group|Kwan Henmi
Michael Hricak, FAIA LEED-AP – Adjunct Associate Professor, USC
Mandy Freeland, AIA NOMA – CEO & Principal, Mandy Freeland, Architect, Inc.; VP AIA CA Academy of Emerging Professionals
Paul W. Welch, Hon. AIA – Executive Vice-President, AIA California for 37 years, Founder of the Paul W. Welch Jr. ARE Scholarship
Chester Widom, FAIA – Founding Partner WWCOT, California State Architect 2011-2018, Founder of the Widom Scholarship

Scholarship recipients will receive up to $3,500 to help offset the costs of higher education in architecture and design. Awards can be used for qualified tuition and related expenses and/or to otherwise improve or enhance capacity, skill or talent in the field of architecture.


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