Eight Designers Pursuing Licensure are Announced as Paul W. Welch, Jr. 2023 ARE Scholarship Recipients

(Sacramento, California)—The California Architectural Foundation is delighted to announce the eight recipients of this year’s Paul W. Welch, Jr. ARE Scholarship awards.

Awarded to designers in pursuit of licensure as architects, who have already demonstrated achievement at this early-career stage, the fund reimburses recipients for fees expended for the Architect Registration Examination and related expenses.

“Licensure, a fundamental commitment to achieving excellence in the field, is incredibly important for both individual practitioners themselves and the profession at large,” said Paul W. Welch., Jr. who established the fund and led the American Institute of Architects California as its Executive Vice President for 37 years. “I am proud to support this group of talented and determined scholarship recipients who are driven to further their expertise in the bedrock of the practicing architect. Each demonstrates strong capabilities.”

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

Jamilla Afandi, Assoc. AIA
Jamilla is exactly the type of involved, committed professional that should be licensed as an architect.  Her work, volunteerism, and passion for architecture is what sets her apart from others.  Even with all of her extra-curricular activities, her teamwork in community-focused projects at her firm is exemplary.

Burak Celik, Assoc. AIA
The jury was impressed with Burak’s essay in which he discussed how he applied the principles of sustainability in his work; it wasn’t just theoretical. His work with HDR is impressive, and his design thinking shows through in the competitions and school projects he included in his submittal. 

Victoria Dam, Assoc. AIA
Victoria is clearly a future leader of our field, no question. She exhibits so much commitment to both architecture and building science, which in itself demonstrates an understanding of where our practice needs to go.  She seems set on solving our climate change problems, and we need more architects like her. She is involved in Student and Associate activities.

Alyssa Kinney, Assoc. AIA
She is motivated. Alyssa takes on a leadership role both inside and outside of the work environment. She has a strong portfolio, excellence in communication—both verbally and graphically—and is consistent with her commitment in leadership and continuing education. What sets her portfolio apart from others is the desire to be understood: she knows that ideas need to be explained.

Violet Li, Assoc. AIA
Violet’s work is beautiful, from her sketches to the professional projects she was involved in.  She is one of the rare practitioners who seem to be able to do it all, which is a great talent to have. Her navigating to licensure is focused. Her starting of the ARE process quickly is a very good example.

Mona Nahm, Assoc. AIA
Her pursuit of difficult tests to obtain her WELL, LEED and Living Future accreditations, demonstrates that she is truly committed to a career that focuses on the health of the planet.  Nothing is as important for the next generation of architects. Her work experience is strong, and she is actively engaged in JEDI efforts and collateral organizations. An enthusiastic YES.

Taskin Yener, Assoc. AIA
The jury appreciates Taskin’s commitment to the field and to his company, which demonstrates that he has a future architect with excellent principles. He’s a workhorse not a show horse: an enthusiastic yes!

Manuel Zermeno, Assoc. AIA
Manuel is qualified not only to finish his AREs but to get into practice. He demonstrates such an understanding of the architect’s role, so early in his path to licensure, he will be a terrific addition to our profession. He holds a commitment to the value of architects, being the leader of a team, and the design process. Fifty percent of his ARE is already done.

The 2023 Paul W. Welch, Jr. ARE Scholarship awards 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 – Founder of the Paul W. Welch Jr. ARE Scholarship
Chester Widom, FAIA – Founding Partner WWCOT, California State Architect 2011-2018

Recipients receive reimbursement of:

  • NCARB and CAB fees to establish records
  • The cost of passing each division of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) and the California Supplemental Exam. Proof of passing must be submitted along with a request for reimbursement. Funds can be applied to previously passed divisions.
  • Initial License Fee and certificate from CAB


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