Young alum pays it forward
UC DAAP alum creates architecture scholarship for passionate international students
In the world of college scholarships, talented international students often find themselves sifting through lists of awards and endowments, only to find they are ineligible for most financial grants without a U.S. citizenship.
But that didn’t stop Saakshi Terway, DAAP ’17.
"I came to the University of Cincinnati from India because UC was in the top five prestigious schools in the country for a Master of Architecture II program. I chose UC primarily for its curriculum, but especially for its internationally known cooperative education (co-op) program,” notes Terway.
Through the financial grant process, Terway faced more roadblocks as an international student because of citizenship requirements. The number of scholarships available to students from outside the U.S. was small, but she found the pool of applicants large and very competitive.
“My income was limited to three semesters of co-op granted as part of UC’s architecture program,” says Terway. “Getting a job off campus for international students on F1 visas is illegal, many traditional scholarships have barriers for international students and the cost of out-of-state tuition can be more than four times what in-state students pay.”
Terway has now turned those negatives into a positive pathway for others by starting a scholarship fund for international students who face similar financial barriers.
Five years after graduating UC’s School of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), Terway secured a position at an architecture firm in Washington, DC, eventually building enough funds to start a scholarship of her own.
“Throughout the process, I knew I wanted to pay it forward and help the next generation of international scholars who have an incredible passion and talent for architecture,” says Terway. “Thanks to UC Foundation and my family, my dream of financially helping passionate international students came true!
“The Terway Inclusivity Scholarship Fund honors my grandfather who encouraged and helped me financially the whole way through my UC education.”
Terway Inclusivity Scholarship Fund
Ajit Terway (1930-2022) believed in the power of education and saw it as the great equalizer. His granddaughter graduated in 2017 with a Master of Architecture degree and a certificate in Sustainable Landscape Design from the University of Cincinnati's College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. She established this scholarship to honor Ajit Terway's legacy and to support an international student in the Master of Architecture II program who is in the U.S. on a student visa.
As an international student, I think integrating the co-ops/internships with the curriculum is just brilliant. Co-ops helped me bridge the gap between the curriculum and its practical implementation.
Saakshi Terway UC DAAP, '17
Keeping the dream alive
Early in Terway's master’s program money was tight. She lived modestly, rooming for a few years with other students in off-campus housing. Her options for earning income as an international student were limited to the three co-op opportunities she was granted as an architecture student.
“While I co-oped with three firms of different scales and sizes to find my comfort level, I was able to explore the United States while learning about its culture and history beyond what was portrayed back home," says Terway.
“As an international student, I think integrating the co-ops/internships with the curriculum is just brilliant. For our industry, which is structured more like an apprenticeship, many firms expect work experience at entry-level jobs. Co-ops helped me bridge the gap between the curriculum and its practical implementation."
To help offset her college expenses, even with paid co-ops, Terway applied for DAAP’s Sustainable Design Certification Program that also came with a scholarship opportunity.
“This design course enabled me to receive UC’s Elizabeth Moesta White Scholarship, which was open to all with no barriers. You just needed to be passionate about what you were doing. That was the catalyst that inspired me to create a similar scholarship for others going through the same challenges,” says Terway.
It takes a village
Originally coming from a comfortable background, Terway's financial situation changed when India was suddenly hit with a recession, impacting her family hard.
“My financial situation suddenly changed. I was facing a critical point where I now have one small scholarship, but it’s still difficult to afford tuition fees,” she says. “My option was to either quit the program midway — and I did not want to quit — or find outside aid.”
In no time, Terway’s grandfather stepped in. Always a strong believer that everyone deserves an education, her grandfather knew he could help keep her dream alive.
“He always supported my dreams, even when I wanted to come to the U.S. for my master’s,” recalls Terway. “It was never, ‘Can she go or should she go?’ If she gets the admission, of course she’ll go.’”
As a result of creative thinking and help from her family, Terway was able to pay her tuition, secure housing with help from friends on campus, receive the Elizabeth Moesta White Sustainable Design Certification grant and spearhead UC’s master’s of architecture program as a national STEM program.
"If it wasn’t for my grandfather, I wouldn’t have been able to finish my master’s program here,” says Terway. “I started this scholarship award and named it after him as a way to continue his mission to support the right to an education.”
Terway set up her scholarship so DAAP will select the international students based on their portfolio, and not the GPA system.
“As an international student, the GPA system here is different, which makes it difficult for many international students to earn financial awards,” says Terway. “Instead, I don’t want their GPA to factor in the selection, I want the passion and portfolio to be the deciding factor. If you have a strong design sense it will show up in your portfolio.”
Designing new futures
“The job market was very hard for international students in 2017, so I am very grateful to Wiencek + Associates for, not only helping me secure my visa but for the path to my dream of working and living in this country,” says Terway.
"With my continued interest in responsible and sustainable architecture that has a social impact on local and global communities, I can take a holistic approach that allows architecture and design to become a tool for empowering marginalized groups — encouraging them to appreciate and relate to the built environments around them.”
As an alum who now looks toward her future as a successful architect in the U.S., Terway never wants to forget the opportunities that helped get her here.
"As my income grows, I plan to increase my scholarship funds to cover a student’s full year of tuition. And, I hope to eventually meet my awardees and get to know them,” adds Terway.
“These efforts can make an incredible impact on how much they can accomplish as a talented student. Now they have one less thing to worry about.”
Featured image at top: Saakshi Terway stands proudly alongside UC's entrance wall. Photo provided
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