Spring break in Kenya: WSU interior design student brings vision to life

OGDEN, Utah – Sadie Wood spent her spring break in Taru, Kenya, building a community center that she helped design.

“My time in Kenya was life-altering,” said Wood, an interior design student at Weber State University. “It was nothing like what I expected it to be.”

The opportunity came after Wood won the WSU Interdisciplinary Design Charette, a 48-hour competition where students design a building for a nonprofit organization from top to bottom. Teams include students from Weber State’s interior design, building design and construction, and construction management programs.

“We had two days to design a community center from the ground up,” Wood said. “Our team was up until 2 or 3 a.m., and up again a few hours later thinking about square footage, layout, colors, cost and a million other things. We’re all perfectionists, and we wanted our building to be the best.” 

Wood’s team took first place with their design for a Kenya Keys community center in Taru. When designing the building, which houses a gathering area and library, the team took inspiration from Kenya's national flower and acacia trees. 

Each member of the winning team was awarded a $1,000 scholarship and the opportunity to travel to Kenya to participate in the construction of the building they designed. Wood and 30 other WSU students spent 10 days in Kenya.

During that time, the team cut wood, mixed cement by hand, and placed bricks for the foundation of the new center, but Wood said her favorite part of her time abroad was visiting local schools and playing games with children. 

Wood will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in interior design in April. She’s considering careers in commercial and residential building design, and hopes to one day own an interior design company.

She credits her success in the competition and the interior design program to her professors for encouraging and supporting her. 

“All of the professors in the interior design department have always been so dedicated to helping me be a better designer,” Wood said. “They’ve not only had an impact on how I see design, but how I see the world.”


Kennedy Jones, Marketing & Communications
801-626-7948, kennedyjones1@weber.edu 


Bryan Magaña, public relations director
801-626-7948, bryanmagana@weber.edu