Submitted by WALLEN + daub
For most creative professionals, there is an understanding that craft comes at a cost. However, many people do not have a generous benefactor to help fund those needs that can positively impact a career. Attending conferences, paying for exams, or professional membership fees can feel impossible while avoiding the “starving artist” stigma. In an effort to pay it forward for the next generation of brilliant creatives, WALLEN + daub launched the ERNA Memorial Grant in 2019.
WALLEN + daub is an organization that provides engagement and empowerment to students and professionals through a nexus of educational items and events. It is a resource for building intellectual infrastructure in design, STEM and creative industries. Returning for its second year and in partnership with Studio For, PJA Architecture and Novus Architecture, the grant was expanded to fund the ambitions of two recipients.
Fauzia Khanani of Studio For said, “As we know, the field of architecture is not well-regarded for its compensation rates, especially when it comes to emerging professionals. Having experienced this, I’ve always felt strongly about paying it forward when I had the means to help up and coming students and young architects. The ERNA Grant is a program committed to this, so Studio For was immediately onboard when we learned about it from Danei Cesario, WALLEN + daub’s founder.”
The ERNA Memorial Grant seeks to elevate, retain, nurture and assist its awardees in the amount of $1,333, for professional development. Out of dozens of applicants, the awarded recipients are Dariel Levan and Tobi Ashiru.
Levan is a soon-to-be graduate of the City College of New York, where he will earn his bachelor’s in architecture this spring. Additionally, he is an intern at KPF’s New York City office, where he says that the balance of practical work outside of university curriculum helps to mold him into a better designer and person. Levan plans on using his award toward educational travel and exam fees. Among the things he learned in this past year were how to use a drawing tablet, a total game-changer for painting in the digital space; that pre-work morning runs are enjoyable and beneficial; and the importance of maintaining relationships.
Ashiru is a West Coast-based designer, business owner and University of Southern California graduate. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, she started a business, Poché Design Studio, with a fellow USC alum. Through Poché, Ashiru and her partner create quality multimedia graphics that cater to millennials, focusing on the black female experience. The ERNA grant will allow her to invest in production of Poché’s products, training, and development. Among the lessons Ashiru has learned this year are: Don’t be afraid to start, the universe will always conspire in your favor; confidently take up space; and constantly create great work and it will speak for you in rooms you haven’t stepped in yet.
This year’s ERNA grant awards were possible because of WALLEN + daub’s commitment to collaboration. Aligning with other organizations to educate, engage and empower in a global, interdisciplinary way allows WALLEN + daub to foster diversity of thought, inclusion of varied experiences and equity of opportunities.
“As a second-generation architect, I have seen firsthand what access to a mentor and professional development can mean to an emerging professional,” said Christian Jordan, AIA, principal of PJA Architecture. “In proudly supporting the ERNA Memorial Grant, it is our hope that future architects can use the award to create agency over their futures and passionately follow their dreams.”