Two Department of Design students were chosen to join Future 100 as aspiring leaders in architecture and interior design.
Senior Interior Design major, Chinne Okoronkwo, and Environmental Design master's student, Kalie Brettmann, were both selected for Metropolis Future 100. Each year Metropolis recognizes the top 100 graduating students from architecture and interior design programs in the United States and Canada and connects them with design firms across North America.
Erin Hamilton, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Design, said that Okoronkwo continues to excel in and out of the classroom, juggling the demands of life as a student-athlete and Interior Design major.
"She has responded to these demands by developing exceptional organizational habits, always submitting the highest quality of work ahead of deadlines," Hamilton said. "She wants to combine her expertise as an athlete with the professional training of an interior designer and future architect to create environments that inspire, support, and attract athletes and fans. I know we will see nothing but the highest caliber of work from her in the future."
Okoronkwo says she chose the career path of an interior designer because of her fascination with the built environment and how people interact with what's around them.
"The moment I knew I wanted to become a designer happened when I was fairly young competing in Nanjing, China," Okoronkwo said. "I traveled there to compete for Team USA in the Youth Olympic Games. When we arrived at the stadium that held opening ceremonies, there were some of the most beautifully designed buildings I had ever seen. It brought over 100 countries together and was the perfect background for togetherness, celebrating, and healthy competition. It was such an impactful feeling that I aspire to create facilities like this myself one day."
Over the years as a student-athlete, Okoronkwo had to learn how to manage both of her passions: athletics and design.
"I have also received a tremendous amount of support from the teaching staff here at Tech as well as from my athletic advisors and coaches that helped me stay organized and motivated," Okoronkwo said. "Being able to find success in both has taught me that it is not only possible but that I can use it to my advantage."
Hamilton described Brettman as innovative and meticulous in her work.
"Where other students might shy away from fully executing a design concept for lack of knowledge of how to implement it properly in Revit, Kalie dives into the challenge, watching tutorials online and experimenting with different approaches until her concept is realized," Hamilton said. "I am truly excited to see what Kalie will accomplish in her future as a designer and as a scholar."
Growing up, Brettman traveled on mission trips every summer. One year, a local woman needed many repairs to her house, a project that helped spark Brettman's future in interior design.
"Her kitchen cabinets were hanging on by a thread and the whole add-on was left looking as if it were in the beginning of the construction phase," Brettman said. "We ended up getting her new cabinets, insulation, and paneling for the interior, while also fixing the sink to make her everyday life much easier. This experience is what drove me to be an interior designer. I saw firsthand how important it is to make a space functional for the user as well as how big a difference something so small can make in someone's life."
Brettman plans to pursue a career in an architectural firm with a focus on evidence-based design, something that is heavily taught in Texas Tech's Interior Design program.
"I was very excited to be selected for The Metropolis Future100," Brettman said. "I am hoping it will open some doors for me for my future career at an architectural firm. I want to continue my research to further challenge how interiors can benefit the users mentally and physically. I also hope to pursue my Ph.D. in the future; this will give me more career opportunities as well as resources."