Texas Tech Student of Integrated Scholarship
College of Human Sciences
As a doctoral candidate, Angela Bourne brings a refreshing perspective to interior design education and practice. Bourne is a nontraditional student in the area of environmental design—a wife and a mother she is also an accomplished interior designer and has spent the past two decades as a professor in Canada. Bourne specializes in creating spaces for people with special needs, including those with autism and Down’s syndrome. To augment her credentials as an academician, she has been pursuing a PhD in environmental design from the College of Human Sciences at Texas Tech. Bourne has worked with design Professor Kristi Gaines, serving as a research assistant and a teaching assistant, in addition to helping Gaines with her forthcoming book. Bourne also has been successful at securing grant funding, resulting in part from collaboration with Gaines and Professor Debajyoti Pati. After she obtains her doctorate, Bourne says she plans to continue her research into design solutions for special-needs people.
Learn more about Student of Integrated Scholarship Angela Bourne in this question-and-answer session.
What got you interested in your major?
I have practiced and still practice as an interior designer with a specialty in designing places for people with special needs—cognitive diversities in particular. I decided to pursue a PhD in environmental design (after working and teaching in the profession) because I wanted to learn more about research, and I felt that in order to substantiate much of my intuitive thinking I needed to learn how to do research to validate my knowledge—evidence-based design.
What is the most challenging course you've taken? How has it affected you?
Hmmm...definitely quantitative statistics. Having practiced as a designer/educator in a community college setting for several years now, I have had limited exposure to the field of quantitative statistics. Hence, it is a totally new language to me. But thanks to Dr. Hansel Burley, I have grasped the fundamental concepts, and I am now able to critically access quantitative research relative to my own research trajectories.
What kind of work experiences have you had while pursuing your doctorate?
Other than taking a one-year sabbatical (I was fortunate to be granted a sabbatical from the college where I have been teaching for over 20 years—Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, Canada), I have continued to study from a distance, teach and build my research. I am in the process of preparing my dissertation research proposal. During my year of residency I worked as an RA and TA for Dr. Kristi Gaines—both were rewarding experiences.
Have you participated in research?
Throughout my studies I have worked as a research assistant with Dr. Gaines. Recently we applied for a grant, which was sponsored by the American Association of Interior Designers (ASID), and we were successful in acquiring it. I am working with Dr. Gaines and Dr. Debajyoti Pati on this grant. I also applied and received a graduate student grant from the Organization for Autism Research (OAR). Both grants relate to my area of interest—designing therapeutic environments for populations with special needs, in particular those with Intellectual Developmental Diversities (IDD), including autism and Down's syndrome. Since I have been at TTU I have also presented several posters and a couple of papers at conferences throughout the US. Additionally, I am also partnering with Dr. Gaines on the writing of a book called Designing for Autism Spectrum Disorders.
What service projects (volunteering, community service, etc.) have you been involved in?
My service projects relate to my research interest. I volunteer with IDD groups in Lubbock—High Point Community—and in and around my home in Canada. My dissertation research is focusing on the creation of best practices for the design of living and learning environments that resonate with the intellectual developmental diversities of this population. The knowledge I developed from the environmental design courses I took with Dr. Cherif Amor and Dr. Pati will really help me achieve this goal.
What advice would you give to other students who would like to be a Student of Integrated Scholarship? Students of Integrated Scholarship balance academics with additional activities, such as research, internships, service learning, and study abroad.
Do your research, prepare yourself, and set realistic expectations. As an adult learner in an area that has very few students over 45 years old, I would suggest one develop a support network to help them get through their studies and get buy-in from their family (i.e., spouse, children, etc.).
What are your plans after graduation?
I would like to be able to further develop research in designing for well-being for special populations, and share it at conferences and publications—peer-reviewed journals.
What experiences do you value most as a student at Texas Tech?
As a mature international student, I value what I have learnt about the geography, customs, and culture of West Texas. Before I came to Tech, I had never even been to Texas before, let alone West Texas. Learning about football, spicy food, and the production of cotton has been an eye-opener for me. I especially enjoy all the sunshine you get and the beautiful sunsets and the friendly people.