MLA Students Receive Funding from Sigma Lambda Alpha
Three Auburn students have been awarded funding from Sigma Lambda Alpha (SLA), the International Honor Society of Landscape Architecture. All three students are members of Auburn’s Alpha Epsilon Chapter of SLA and Master of Landscape Architecture students in Auburn’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture (APLA).
SLA gives scholarships to one undergrad and one graduate student each year. Applicants are evaluated based on scholarship and the submission of an essay, and Helena Starnes received the $2,000 Graduate Scholarship. Starnes holds bachelor’s degrees in horticulture and biology and chose a career in landscape architecture to inspire and connect people with the outdoors. “Coming into this program without any experience in design did not make for an easy path since love of plants alone cannot create a project. However, I find joy in learning and tackling new challenges.” Starnes, who will graduate next May, is juggling a lot of responsibilities between internships, coursework and raising her two young children, and she says that this scholarship has helped to make the program affordable. She is grateful to the APLA faculty members who have encouraged and coached her and other students to apply for outside awards and scholarships. “I was very excited and relieved to receive the scholarship! It is also very validating to receive external recognition for the tremendous amount of effort that I have put into earning this degree, which speaks highly of the program itself as well,” she stated.
While Starnes was awarded a scholarship, two other Auburn students received travel grants. Those applying for SLA’s travel grants must give a detailed description of their travel plans and describe how their experiences will impact their research. Maggie Brand received a $1,000 travel grant from SLA to help fund her travels to the country of Georgia in Eastern Europe. This summer, she is traveling to the city of Tbilisi to lead a landscape architecture workshop for students in conjunction with the design firm Ruderal, the only landscape architecture firm in the country. After several weeks in Tbilisi, she will travel around the country to see the national parks across Georiga’s diverse landscape. Brand will focus her studies on ecotourism and will meet with park rangers and government officials. “I hope to investigate the role of the parks as a vessel for ecotourism and to better understand the impacts of ecotourism on the lives of Georgians,” she explained. “In addition to leading a workshop, I plan to spend time at Ruderal as they work on a current ecotourism project. This will help me gain a better understanding of tensions between the tourism industry and landscape identity within Georgia via work with western NGOs and Georgian heritage professionals.”
Camilo Monosalvas also received a $1,000 travel grant from SLA to fund a stop at the Appalachian Trail during his travels to Philadelphia. Monosalvas will be traveling this fall to Philadelphia, the first city in the United States planned around a formal grid street plan, to study the intersection of contemporary landscape architecture and historic planning. He will use his SLA grant to travel to the Appalachian Trail to study how it connects people, communities and nature. “It provides a case study to analyze the articulation between leisure and industry, environment and labor and development and preservation,” he said of the Appalachian Trail. “I will study how this zone balances the planning dimension of a major ecological zone without it pertaining to a single political jurisdiction. I am eager to discover how these urban ecologies interact with natural ecosystems.”