2024 Scholarship Recipients

AIGA Philadelphia is proud to announce the recipients of the 2024 AIGA Alina Wheeler Memorial Scholarship, which will award two deserving students $2500 each: Teva Dang of the University of the Arts and Lauryn Samson of Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.

Additionally, AIGA Philly awards three honorable mentions of $1000 each to Deanna Brown of Thomas Jefferson University Kanbar College of Design, Engineering & Commerce, Kylie Crohe, Moore College of Art & Design, and Jaida Owens, Drexel University Westphal College of Media Arts & Design

The AIGA Philadelphia Scholarship is an annual opportunity that supports local Graphic Design students through the award of financial assistance to pursue their education. We hope to build upon the foundation of community in the Philadelphia Chapter to provide young designers the opportunity to share their vision with the world. Recipients are chosen on the merits of their application and demonstration of need.

Learn more about the award recipients below:

Teva Dang is a first-generation college student raised by Vietnamese immigrants. She has always had a passion for art which was supported by her parents despite the many challenges they faced. Her culture and heritage as a Vietnamese American strongly influence her work. She hopes to use her artistic voice to represent her heritage since it is often overlooked and forgotten due to racism and ignorance.

What inspires you about the field of Graphic Design?

Design inspires me to contribute to the community at large by creating art and designs that give a voice to people who don’t have one.  Art and design are something we see in our everyday lives, in both necessary and unessential items. It can be used to help us, spread awareness, or just bring us joy. It is a universal language that can have a wide reach around the world with the right advocators. In our current world, representation matters more than ever. 

What are your professional goals upon graduation?

My professional goal upon graduation is to become a freelance illustrator and go back to school for my master’s in art education, as I aspire to be an art teacher and pass on my passion for art to the next generation. My parents did everything they can to support me in my art journey, and I want to give that same support to our future generation. 

Lauryn Samson is a graphic design student with a passion for color theory and typography, with a minor in entertainment and art management. She is excited to learn new skills and be part of a creative community, driven by the thrill of new projects. Samson enjoys working with a team of creative individuals and draws inspiration from her surroundings and European background. Overall, she is a passionate and motivated individual with a strong interest in the design and entertainment industry.

Would you like to share more about your family or personal story or perhaps provide an edited selection from your essay?

Hi, I am Lauryn Alexandrine Samson, an international student from France currently studying graphic design at Drexel University. My journey to the United States is driven by a deep passion for design and a desire to immerse myself in a vibrant creative environment. Moving here alone, without family or financial support, was a bold decision that tested my resilience and determination.

I have one year left to complete my diploma. Each day at Drexel brings new knowledge and opportunities to apply my skills. The supportive faculty and diverse perspectives of my peers have enriched my learning experience, pushing me to explore new ideas in my work.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have had and am excited about the future. As I continue my studies, I remain committed to pushing the boundaries of my creativity and using my skills to create meaningful and impactful design.

What are some of the challenges you faced when pursuing your education?

Growing up in a culturally rich European environment, I was captivated by the interplay of color, form, and typography. This passion led me to Drexel, where I could receive top-notch education and refine my skills. Adapting to life in a new country and learning a new language has been challenging but rewarding, providing me with invaluable personal growth.

Financially, being an international student is challenging. The Alina Wheeler Memorial AIGA Philadelphia Scholarship is going to ease my financial burden, allowing me to focus more on my studies and creative projects and fully utilize Drexel’s resources and grow as a designer.

What inspires you about the field of Graphic Design?

A significant part of my journey is my desire to make my mother proud. She trusted me to move to a new country, believing in my ability to succeed. As I approach graduation, I am proud to show her that her trust was well-placed. This journey has been for my career and personal achievement, but it also honors her unwavering support.

My journey reflects my commitment to graphic design despite obstacles. I am driven to create work that showcases my unique perspective and contributes to the broader community. With this scholarship, I am confident I will maximize my time at Drexel and develop as a designer who makes a positive impact through creativity.

What are your professional goals upon graduation?

Upon graduation, my professional goals are to work in a dynamic design firm where I can collaborate with other creative minds on impactful projects. I aim to specialize in branding and visual identity, helping companies tell their stories through compelling visuals. Additionally, I aspire to travel and discover the rest of the design community. At some point in my career, I would like to give back to the community by mentoring aspiring designers and contributing my skills to nonprofit organizations. Ultimately, I hope to build a career that not only fulfills my creative passions but also makes a meaningful difference.

Deanna Brown is a Visual Communication Design major at Thomas Jefferson University with a double concentration in web and graphic design. In the future, she hopes to design for a company that allows her to travel and learn more about numerous cultures. She is so grateful to be named an honorable mention by AIGA Philadelphia.

Kylie Crohe is a Bucks County, Pennsylvania-born Leo who has been drawing for most of their life. Though they changed their mind a dozen times over—considering careers from zoology to astronomy—they always came back to art. Combining a love of illustration and graphic design, they hope to work in the Philadelphia region after completing their degree at Moore College of Art & Design. Their goal is to mentor students with proof that art is both a viable career choice and a path to happiness. 

Jaida Owens is a senior graphic design student attending Drexel University’s Westphal College of Media Arts & Design working towards a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. Originally from South Jersey, she moved to Philadelphia with the goal of graduating from Drexel and integrating herself into the Philadelphia art and design communities. While being a full-time student, she is a Visual Design intern for Amtrak, supports other organizations on a variety of projects, and is the new Communications Director of the Drexel Chapter of AIGA.

2024 AIGA Philadelphia Scholarship Judges

Jason Alejandro

Assistant Professor at The College of New Jersey


Jason Alejandro is a Puerto Rican graphic designer and educator based in New Jersey. He is currently an Assistant Professor at The College of New Jersey. Jason has produced award-winning design work for publishers and institutions of higher education. His professional experience includes roles in book design, environmental graphic design, and art direction. Jason’s work has been recognized by Communication Arts, AUP, The New York Book Show, and the Society of Typographic Arts. He holds an MFA in Graphic Design from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Liese Zahabi 

Graphic/Interaction Designer 

Assistant Professor of Design, University of New Hampshire


Liese Zahabi is a graphic/interaction designer and Assistant Professor of Design at the University of New Hampshire. She received her Master of Graphic Design (MGD) from North Carolina State University, and her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) from Eastern Michigan University. She has been working as a designer since 2000, and teaches courses in graphic design, interaction design, motion design and animation, typography, game design, user experience, and design research.

Liese’s academic research focuses on search as a cognitive and cultural process and how the design of interfaces can change the experience of digital search tasks. Her creative design work explores how the nature of search manifests itself in visual patterns and sense-making, how the digital record influences memory and our understanding of history, and how language and image intersect within the context of the Internet.

By aigaphiladelphia
Published May 29, 2024