Meet Our Student: Divya Varadarajan

What are you studying at Jefferson?

MS in Interior Architecture.

Why did you choose Jefferson?

I chose to study at Jefferson mainly because of its location, which is in Philadelphia. Philadelphia is rich in historical culture and its rich culture of Art and Architecture. Another reason would be because of the course content that is exclusively provided in this program, particularly at Jefferson for students belonging from backgrounds that do not necessarily involve Architecture. The faculty here is incredibly supportive and encourages students to explore their capabilities beyond the classroom in the form of participation in design competitions and student chapter organizations such as IIDA and ASID.

Where are you from originally?

I am originally from the state of Tamil Nadu, India.

What is the best part of your studies?

The best part about my studies has been the interprofessional collaboration we have had with the MS in sustainable design students. The design charettes we engaged in for one of our projects that had major sustainable design goals enabled us to experience collaborations that we might have in the professional world with other professionals parallelly working with us. I hope to come across more of these collabs in other classes as well.

Why was it important for you to choose a program that had STEM designation?

The Optional Practical Training programs that we apply for enable us to get work permits in the US to put our study to practice in the real world and enable us to develop as experienced professionals. Not only this, but it also empowers women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and Medicine and give them equal opportunity for representation whilst promoting diversity equity and inclusion in these fields.

How do you and will you benefit from the MSIA program being STEM designated?

The main benefits that I have from MSIA program becoming STEM designated, is that I will be an empowered equal in the fields of science and technology, especially considering in the field of Interior Architecture

What is something people would be surprised to find out about you?

A surprising fact about me would be that I love anything and everything to do with South Asian culture. I enjoy Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisines. I spend most of my Sundays with popcorn and a Hayao Miyazaki Studio Ghibli Animation film. I go nuts about Japandi interior design aesthetics, with George Nakashima’s work being some of my favorite works in Furniture Design.

Tell us about an award you’ve recently received.

I have received an honorable mention for the American Heart Association Adaptive Reuse Commercial Design Project in the Interior Design Awards, 2023 hosted by ASID East PA Chapter. Even though this project was one of my very first studio class projects, I am still proud of it because it marks the transition of my career from a furniture designer in residential design to an interior architect in commercial office design. This also reflects the importance of recognizing work that works towards building awareness about heart health.