Lakeland scores 13th straight win

By Geoff Lee

August 11, 2016 12:00 AM

Sydney Melnyk, a Lakeland College interior design program grad won the top $5,000 scholarship prize in the 2015-16 National Kitchen & Bath Association Charette Design Competition. Fellow student Sara Downing won the second place $4,000 scholarship.

Lakeland College interior design technology students, Sydney Melnyk and Sara Downing are top poster grads for the college’s Live the Learning slogan.
Melynk and Downing, who live in Saskatoon, finished first and second in the National Kitchen & Bath Association 2015-16 Charette Design competition with both grads ready to apply what they learned in the workforce.
Another leading student, Rebecca Kurczaba, received an honourable mention.
After graduating in June, Melynk has been working as an interior design technologist with Henry Downing Architects in Saskatoon where she completed a two month practicum.
“I am very fortunate, grateful and happy (to have a job),” she said.
News of earning first place in the competition contested by about 100 students from 11 colleges across North America is still sinking in for Melnyk who was awarded a $5,000 scholarship.
“Everybody here was excited for me to hear that I placed in the competition and won,” said Melnyk.
“I was actually at the lake and I was checking my e-mails quick and I didn’t think it was real at first,” she said.
“I started calling my mom and my sisters—holy crap I won,” she said after re-reading the e-mail several times to convince herself it was all real.
Melnyk is applying some of her prize money to decorate a new condo she recently bought with her career now underway.
“I am probably going to use it for that expenses-wise—it’s kind of like it goes hand in hand almost,” she said,  about her condo and career.
Downing said she was “super surprised” learning she finished second and was getting a $4,000 scholarship prize.
She completed a two month practicum in May and June with Alykhan Velji Designs in Calgary and,  after looking for work, has decided to start her own residential interior design business in Saskatoon.
“Right now the economy isn’t great and it’s kind of hard to find work, so I figure I might as well try to be using the skills I have from school,” she said.
Her skills were put to the test during the Charette competition to design a functional kitchen in just three hours without the use of computers.
“Actually, it’s all by hand so all the drafting—the floor plan—you can choose to do an elevation or a hand rendering,” said Downing, who noted hand drafting was taught in the first year of schooling.
Their submissions had to include a kitchen floor plan with specifications, a design statement and a perspective or elevation of a kitchen featuring appliances. 
Melnyk said the class went into the competition well prepared.
“We had practised for it a few times, so we were aware of what would happen the day of, so we weren’t super stressed out and freaked out about it,” she said.
Still she said, you had to work quickly given there was only three hours.
“You had to make quick design decisions—you had to come up with your solutions and problems very quickly,” she said.
Melnyk’s top place in the competition is the 13th consecutive year Lakeland interior design technology students have earned top finishes.
She and Downing give a lot of credit to their instructors.
“They were so good at making sure we understood what we’re doing and that we’re doing it well,” said Melnyk.
Over the two year diploma program, students work in a studio setting where they are taught design fundamentals drafting and space planning and what to expect when starting their careers.
“My instructors were amazing, I couldn’t have done so well without them,” said Downing.
“They’re super caring of us as people,  not just as students, which really helped in the classroom.”
While at Lakeland, Downing was a standout player on the Rustlers soccer team earning the rookie of the year award and ACAC top 10 All-Conference for futsal, as well as MVP. 
Downing plans to use some of her prize money for a return flight to St. John’s Newfoundland, where she will compete for the Jubilee Cup as a member of the Saskatoon Huskie Alumni soccer team Oct. 5-11.

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