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Student receives scholarship

Charitha Isanaka | Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Senior architecture major Kaity Veenstra was one of only 39 US students awarded a scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation apply her studies in a master’s program at the University of Cambridge.


Gates Cambridge Scholarships are awarded to students of extraordinary academic and leadership accomplishment from outside of the United Kingdom who can demonstrate they are a “good fit” for their specific course of study at the University of Cambridge, according to the scholarship website.
Veenstra said she felt this award validated her architectural studies.

“The award means everything to me … getting this award means that my convictions and research interests in architecture are important to more than just me,” she said.

After receiving the news, Veenstra said she feels the Gates Cambridge committee believes her work has potential for global impact. Now she will have the resources to continue pursuing her goals, she said. “It is a terrific personal honor that honestly, sometimes still does not feel real and I still wonder if I deserve,” she said. “It really gives me the motivation and drive to continue giving everything I have to the study of truly sustainable architecture and how to make it globally accessible.”

While at Cambridge, Veenstra said she will work toward a one-year master’s degree in  Philosophy in Architecture and Urban Studies.
 “I strongly believe that all of my achievements would hold no value for me if I had no one to share them with and had done nothing to give back to the Notre Dame community during my five years here,” she said.

The architecture program at Notre Dame is very unique because it focuses on the design of classical architecture and the use of historical precedents for every design project, Veenstra said. The program gives students a solid foundation in history and technical aspects of architecture, as well as traditional techniques like hand drawing and watercolor skills, she said.

 “The education at our school of architecture is excellent preparation for practice, with some of the highest ARE [Architects’ Registration Exam] pass rates in the country, and the comprehensive understanding of the design process to be successful in any sector,” she said.

For the past two years at Notre Dame, Veenstra has participated in the Green Scale Research Project (GSRP). She said the GSRP examines the true cost of sustainable architecture by measuring and comparing the environmental impacts of new “green” technologies alongside traditional materials and methods to provide design professionals with the knowledge to make truly informed decisions throughout the building design and construction process.  

“[Project supervisor Professor Aimee Buccellato in the School of Architecture] has done an excellent job in expanding my knowledge of sustainable architecture and training me in research methods and widely used software programs,” Veenstra said.

“She has also given me chances to take on leadership roles in framing case studies, working with other departments on campus, and writing and presenting conference papers,” she said. “I will never be able to thank her enough for being my mentor these past years, and for making it possible for me to even dream of such a high achievement.”

Veenstra also participates in activities with the Student Union Board (SUB) and the academic division of the Club Coordination Council (CCC). She is president of the Student Association of Women in Architecture and has helped co-sponsor and plan a conference with the School of Architecture called “Beyond the Drafting Board: Celebrating 40 Years of Women at Notre Dame Architecture”.

  This summer, Veenstra said she plans to complete an architectural internship for Solomon Cordwell Buenz in Chicago.  According to its Linked-in page, thy company designs high-rise residential and office buildings, as well as healthcare and institutional projects with a focus on creating sustainable buildings using modern materials and technologies.