Dante Wilkins, Ebere Okparaeke and Tabitha Darko Recognized as Emerging Talent
WASHINGTON — Gensler, a global design firm, recently announced the winners of its fifth annual Diversity Scholarship: Dante Wilkins of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC); Ebere Okparaeke, also of SAIC; and Tabitha Darko of the University of Tennessee. The Gensler Diversity Scholarship is a juried program that recognizes emerging talent among African-American college students enrolled in an accredited architecture program. All three winners will receive an academic scholarship as well as an internship with Gensler.
During the rigorous selection process, a panel of jurors representing diverse aspects of the design profession considered each application. “We were very impressed by Dante, Ebere and Tabitha,” said Carlos Martinez, a principal and global design leader at Gensler who served on the Diversity Scholarship jury. “Each of their submissions was uniquely impressive and very original. They represent a generation of talent that has tremendous potential, and I hope they are as inspired by this recognition as we are by them.”
Wilkins expressed excitement about the announcement. “I’m proud to represent a growing population of African-Americans in the architecture and design field,” he said. “I look forward to joining the Gensler family and beginning a new chapter collaborating with the skilled associates within the company.”
This will be a special opportunity for these individuals to learn within Gensler’s diverse, collaborative culture. Darko said: “(Gensler’s) studio environment is about the sharing of knowledge among designers from all different walks of life and with varying experiences. I am also interested to see numerous projects spanning from urban planning to interior design and how these different departments collaborate with one another to make a product reflective of Gensler’s design ideals.”
Okparaeke added: “Winning this scholarship is a great honor. It means that the hard work throughout my years in school... will be worth it in the end, because someone out there believes in me and I completely appreciate that.”
Gensler’s Diversity Scholarship program reflects Gensler’s longstanding commitment to the recruitment and development of diverse emerging design talent and was founded to encourage a more robust dialogue between the architectural profession and African-American architecture students. Now in its fifth year, the program raises awareness of the architectural profession as a career choice and seeks to make design careers more accessible for African-American students. The program is a critical component of Gensler’s university and student outreach programs.
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