Announcing Inaugural Diversity Scholarship Recipients



Two Illinois Institute of Technology students receive the inaugural AIA Chicago Foundation Diversity Scholarships

CHICAGO—In its 150th anniversary year, AIA Chicago and the AIA Chicago Foundation launched the AIA Chicago Foundation Diversity Scholarship to provide ongoing financial support and mentorship: An opportunity to attract and retain diverse, talented young professionals in Chicago, recognizing the value of new and unique voices in the architecture profession. Two students have been awarded the inaugural scholarships: Maria Hidalgo, a third-year undergraduate student entering her fourth year and Amandeep Panach, a first-year graduate student. Both attend the Illinois Institute of Technology.


(Left to right: Maria Hidalgo and Amandeep Panach)

Though still early in her career, Hidaglo’s interest in architecture comes from her belief in building homes, civic and cultural institutions for underserved populations. “When I look into the future,” says Hidalgo, “I picture myself leading a program under the architecture firm that I own in which I can introduce youth into the world of architecture. Whether it is by designing schools, museums, or homes—architecture can be a powerful catalyst in which people can have life-changing experiences.”

Panach, similarly, sees her role as an architect as both barrier-breaking and community-making: “Being a first-generation college student meant that I had to create my own path,” said Panach.“ Architecture holds the power to bring families and communities together. The importance of a house, a community gathering space, or a place that one holds dear to their heart is enhanced through architecture while occupants of that space enhance the place. Architecture allows me to put my passion for design to work while creating a better world for individuals, families, and communities to thrive.”

The scholarship program provides $10,000 to two students: one undergraduate and one graduate student enrolled in or transferring into NAAB-accredited programs in Chicago. Each student will receive $10,000, awarded in two installments over two years. Throughout these two years, those recipients will also be paired with a mentor to help guide them in their academic and professional pursuits. The scholarship is funded primarily by donations from local architecture firms who understand the vital importance of ensuring a diverse practice in the future.

“The opportunity to invest in the future of the architectural profession is a clear benefit of the AIA Chicago Foundation Diversity Scholarship. Goettsch Partners is proud to support this initiative to broaden the perspective and understanding within our industry,” says James Zheng, AIA, LEED AP - Co-CEO and President, Goettsch Partners. Goettsch Partners is one of six $20,000 top-tier donors to the scholarship, including Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Gensler, HOK, Perkins+Will and SCB.

Developing a mentorship component has also been a priority. Chris Annmarie Spencer, AIA, AIA Chicago Foundation board member and longstanding advocate for the scholarship states, “As a young architect charting possible career paths may be daunting, and the Foundation board are firm believers in early and consistent mentorship to alleviate some of that difficulty. Mentorship is important in guiding and encouraging young talent in moving forward in their careers.” JinHwa Paradowicz, AIA, AIA Chicago Foundation board director, adds, “From planning coursework to applying to jobs and internships and building networks, having a dedicated mentor to guide a young architect through the early stages of their career is vital to their future success.”

The scholarship is a part of AIA Chicago’s broader student and emerging professional programming, including ARE study courses, the Bridge mentorship program, Architects in Schools, and more.