Congratulations to our 2020 graduates! Read the first part of our series from our 2015-2020 Diversity Advancement Scholar, Sophie Chien.

Sophie Chien

In my five years at Rhode Island School of Design, the most important thing I’ve learned is to care. I look at care in a broad sense: to care is to be thoughtful, to build up healthy communities, to apply what we learned, to be an active citizen, to respect yourself, to advocate for others, to pay attention. This is such a gift, that designers are sensitive and responsive to the world around us. I have the power to literally draw, sculpt, paint, weave, print, sew, design, and build new futures, futures that are more equitable, beautiful, and just. Futures that don’t exist yet, but should, futures that embrace our shared humanity.

At school, I have participated in opportunities that seem impossible when stacked up together. I have modeled a friend’s collection in New York Fashion Week, traveled the world learning from schoolmates and teachers, and been inspired by so many generous people who have taken the time to talk with and mentor me. I had the honor of serving as student body president, and have been asked to speak on several panels and a podcast during my time in school.

I am very proud of the ways I have developed my own design ethos and practice, learning from internships in Nome, Providence, Rome, Paris, and Los Angeles, working for both design firms and government agencies. During my five years, I have negotiated my studio projects and my associated interests with several fellowships both on and off campus, learning from my local Providence community as much as my architectural community. In every studio project, and culminating with my almost-done thesis, I have centered justice and care as the most important design components.

This scholarship gave me the self- and financial confidence necessary to thrive in the breakneck pace of architecture school and reminded me that my experience honors the people who have come before me and the people that come after me. As I leave architecture school, I will continue to shape my future as an organizer and designer.

As a child of an immigrant, my dad always told me education is the one thing nobody can take away from you. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that my architecture degree from RISD is the one thing that I will always have with me and am so honored to have been supported by the Architects Foundation during my entire experience.

Learn more about the Diversity Advancement Scholarship >