LPA Diversity Scholars Make First Strides Toward Design Degrees

2023 LPA Diversity in Design Scholarship recipients report on an “eventful and exciting” first semester

Since 2020, the LPA Diversity in Design Scholarship has awarded 13 students with $5,000 each year toward their pursuit of a degree in architecture, engineering or a related field. The program, which is focused on students from under-represented groups, pairs them with mentors to help them navigate their academic growth and prepare for their careers.

(The application process is open for the 2024 LPA Diversity in Design Scholarship. Apply here by January 31.)

With just two weeks until the 2024 deadline, we caught up with the four students who received scholarships through the program in 2023. Martin Leung, Liliana Tovar, Katrina Lima-Guan and Anthony Ragasa all successfully completed the first semester of their freshman years. The students—one is a second-language English speaker; another is the first member of her family to attend college—face unique challenges. But each reports feeling inspired for the future.

Martin Leung Quote

Martin Leung, Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles

After getting a running start at his degree (he earned 89 credits during high school), Martin is aggressively pursuing his goal of graduating by 2025. He took five courses in the fall, five more during the winter session, and plans to keep up the breakneck pace this spring. Outside of class he’s become active in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Engineers Without Borders and the UCLA wrestling club. To pay forward his scholarship, he works part-time at the UCLA Financial Aid & Scholarships Department as a peer advisor.

“Because of the LPA scholarship, I have not needed to take any federal student loans, keeping me debt free,” Martin says.

Liliana Tovar Quote

Liliana Tovar, Interior Design, The University of Texas at Austin

Liliana, a first-generation university student, says her freshman year has been “rigorous, exciting and fulfilling.” She’s immersed herself in the craft of interior design, attending build lab workshops, lecture series and undergraduate architecture student council meetings. Her classes at UT Austin have put her in touch with the multi-sensory aspects of design, giving her a tactile understanding and a deeper connection with design criteria and concepts.

“Thanks to the LPA scholarship program, I have been able to afford tuition and material expenses to study what I am passionate about,” Liliana says.

Katrina Lima Guan Quote

Katrina Lima-Guan, Civil & Environmental Engineering, San Jose State University

Katrina, who moved to the United States at age nine, has adapted well to the college environment, thanks to the flexibility of her academic schedule and the “positive attitudes” of her professors and classmates. Staying connected to her family has been critical to her success so far, helping her resolve (thankfully infrequent) challenges.

“With the support of the scholarship program, I’ve felt assured I can take all the courses I need,” Katrina says.

Anthony Ragasa Quote

Anthony Ragasa, Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles

Anthony’s first semester was “eventful and exciting” as he maintained a 4.0 GPA through a demanding engineering course load. Hours spent in the maker space were rewarded with a second-place finish in a battle bots competition. He joined the Pilipinos in Engineering and Sciences club, where he met other Filipinos in STEM, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers club, where he learned 3D modeling and printed a music box as his final project.

“I was able to accomplish these activities because of the generosity of LPA Design Studios,” Anthony says. “Their financial support has allowed me to be the best student I can be.”