Announcing the 2020 Diversity Scholarship Recipients


AIA Chicago and its charitable nonprofit organization, the AIA Chicago Foundation, launched the AIA Chicago Foundation Diversity Scholarship in 2019 to provide ongoing financial support and mentorship to students attending local universities. This year, three students have been selected to receive scholarships from the AIA Chicago Foundation: 

  • Diversity undergraduate scholarship - Asiye Yükselen, Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Diversity graduate scholarship - Edwin Casas, University of Illinois, Chicago
  • Diversity graduate scholarship (honorary)- Roberto Quiroz The School of the Art Institute of Chicago


Undergraduate Asiye Yükselen, AIAS, came to the United States from Turkey and recently transferred to IIT as a third-year architecture student. She hopes that her understanding of conflict, diversity and marginalization will inform her practice in the future.

Graduate student Edwin Casas, AIAS sees his work through a bilingual lens—he has spent his time studying architecture, understanding the built world through Spanish and English languages and his Mexican-American experience. He hopes his education at UIC and unique background will help him “better understand the needs of people” in his future practice.

Finally, this year the AIA Chicago Foundation awarded an honorary scholarship to Roberto Quiroz, AIAS, whose interest in architecture and industrial design stems from his late father, a carpenter in Mexico and is influenced by his Black, Indigenous and Mexican identities. He is attending SAIC, pursuing an MArch with a certificate in Historic Preservation.

“There are many systemic barriers that suppress diversity within the architecture community and industry,” said Chris Annmarie Spencer, AIA, AIA Chicago Foundation Vice President and Chair of the Diversity Scholarship Committee. “Facilitating access to architecture through education and the pursuit of an architectural career through mentorship removes barriers – this scholarship provides essential financial support and mentorship to talented students.”

Each student will receive $10,000, awarded in two installments over two years; the honorary scholarship recipient will receive $6,000. These recipients will also be paired with a mentor to help guide them in their academic and professional pursuits. The scholarship is funded by donations from local architecture firms who understand the vital importance of ensuring a diverse practice in the future.

“These students presented heart-felt applications and strong portfolios. With support and mentorship they can emerge as inspirational leaders of the next generation of architects in our community,” commented Fred Brandstrader, AIA, AIA Chicago Foundation President. 

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. For more information, click here.