The SOM Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 SOM Foundation Robert L. Wesley Award. Three fellows, Viridiana Hernandez Sevilla, Temi Osanyintolu, and Daniella Slowik will each receive a $10,000 unrestricted award to support their academic development. In addition to the three fellows, the jury decided to expand the number of fellows to include two $5,000 unrestricted awards to Corey Norman and Kenya Steward. All recipients of the award will be mentored for a year by the jurors and an extended network of advisors.
“By establishing the Robert L. Wesley Award our aim is to support the academic development of BIPOC students in the US. We want to recognize students that demonstrate potential for leadership and are a positive voice for the community and, at the same time, help overcome current challenges that they might be facing,” said SOM Foundation Executive Director Iker Gil. “The seventy-six applications received during the inaugural edition demonstrated the remarkable work that students are doing in their universities and communities. However, it also made evident the incredible challenges that many students face and the need to help them achieve their goals. In 2020 we are honored to be able to support five extraordinary students.”
This year’s jury was chaired by SOM Foundation Executive Director Iker Gil and included Leo Chow (Partner at SOM in San Francisco), Quilian Riano (Associate Director at the College of Architecture & Environmental Design, Kent State University), Robert L. Wesley (Retired Partner at SOM in Chicago) and Amanda Williams (Visual Artist in Chicago).
Robert L. Wesley, reflecting on the inaugural year of the award, commented that the submission class “far exceeded my expectations in number, quality, and needs. I was, and as other jury members commented, very impressed seeing and hearing the backgrounds, experiences, goals, objectives, and skills of such talented, creative, motivated, mature, and civic-minded students.” Amanda Williams remarked that “the breadth, sincerity, and vibrancy of the student submissions offers us hope, but also a stark reminder of the profound need for support and mentorship. It was especially powerful to be able to sit with Mr. Wesley himself as we imagined which awardees best embodied his legacy.”