Scottsdale, AZ – Alma Serrano is following in her father’s footsteps in working toward becoming an interior designer.
Alma explains, “Well, my dad is a designer, and my uncle who passed away a few years ago, he was also a designer, and I’ve always admired everything that they did together. And, I just love making everything around me beautiful. I feel like everybody deserves to live in a beautiful home, and I’ve always tried to live by that idea.”
Alma, age 20, was born in Mesa but grew up in Mexico until she returned to Mesa at age fourteen. Alma went on to graduate from Mesa High School, and is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design at Northern Arizona University’s Scottsdale Campus.
Alma says being American and growing up in Mexico has provided her with a ‘best of both worlds’ experience, “I’m very grateful for being raised in Mexico, because I feel that Spanish is such a beautiful language, and then being born here (in the U.S.), I have the amazing opportunity of being able to come here and get to know my dad, and also learn the English language.”
Meanwhile, getting back to the business of interior design, Alma says it involves a lot more than matching colors and furniture, “You wear many hats as an interior designer; you have to know how to treat people, you have to know a little bit of psychology, a lot about construction and the different codes that are out there. At first, I would like to have some experiences in commercial design and then have my own firm to design for residential. I’m also interested in designing for people with disabilities in the future, so that involves reading and understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).”
Beyond school, Alma is also doing an internship as a writer with an interior design company, “What I do is research about trends that are going on right now, or about different materials that are being used for interior design, or about styles that are recent or more in the past. And I just write about different ideas that I have, which can be based on my own opinions, and sometimes it’s just something that I wanted to communicate, because I think that it’s important.”
Alma also has a job as a ride-a-long associate with an interior design company, “I actually get to go to peoples’ house and talk to them, and it’s such a fun experience because I get to meet all kinds of people, and I can also apply my interior design knowledge about the furniture that is being delivered to them. It has also taught me a lot about customer service and know how to communicate, and relate to people in business.”
Alma says her college experience would not be happening if it wasn’t for the scholarship from College Success Arizona, which provides up to six-thousand dollars per year for educational expenses, “I’m sure that if it wasn’t for my scholarship, that I wouldn’t be in college right now because my dad couldn’t afford it, and we never saved money for my college education. So if wasn’t for the scholarship I know that wouldn’t be able to do what I love in college, or even be in college.”
The College Success Arizona scholarship also provides students with specialized mentoring services through Success Advisers. Research shows that academic advisers are critically important for first-generation students to succeed in college. Alma’s success adviser is Robert Davis, “He’s been great, and he’s also given us advice on the different things that we can do and pursue once we’re on campus or off campus. I feel that he’s always providing us with very useful advice.”
Alma has some advice for middle and high school students considering college:
“I think that everything is just hard work and I also feel that college can be for everyone and anyone – you just have to find what you’re passionate about. I believe it’s very helpful to experience new things and meet all kinds of new people, because I feel that that is the only way that you can discover yourself, and actually know what you like. And once you have that answer, you will have everything that you need to be successful.”