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Gretchen Gravenstein

A scholarship helps a landscape architecture student study abroad

Gretchen Gravenstein had never left the United States before. But her academic ambitions stretched further than our country’s borders — they stretched all the way to Italy.

Gravenstein is a fourth-year student from Topeka, Kan., enrolled in landscape architecture’s five-year program in the College of Architecture, Planning and Design (APDesign). The college allows students in the second semester of their fourth year to either study abroad or get an internship. Gravenstein spoke with other students who had studied abroad, and said it was an experience of a lifetime. “I wanted to study the buildings and landscapes that we had heard about in lectures,” said Gravenstein. “For a designer studying architecture, there is no better way of understanding that than when you are actually in the place.”

Thanks to the Hakimian Study Abroad Scholarship, Gravenstein was able to do just that. The scholarship was established by K-State alumnus Ben Hakimian, founder and president of Hakimian Organization, a New York City real estate development company. The $12,000 annual commitment provides three $4,000 annual scholarships to students in APDesign to expand their creativity and innovation with an international experience, which is a major component of K-State's goal of becoming a top 50 research institution by 2025.

“The APDesign students are creative and innovative by nature, and studying abroad will broaden their vocabulary of design,” said Hakimian. “But the creativity should not be limited only to architecture – you can use it in many ways in all aspects of your life.”

Gretchen’s creativity and perception is being expanded by her experience in Italy.

“I wouldn’t be able to study abroad without scholarships,” said Gravenstein. “The Hakimian Scholarship has helped me tremendously with the high expenses of studying abroad. The scholarships I've been awarded by K-State and other private donors throughout college helped my family and I make the decision that we could afford for me to study abroad.”

Private gifts from K-State alumni and friends help support students to study abroad. For more information on how you can help architecture students have study abroad experiences, contact Damon Fairchild, director of development for the College of Architecture, Planning and Design, at 785-532-7524.

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