Inaugural Pioneers Endowed Scholarship Fuels the Passion of a Remarkable Student

By Maggie Haslam / Sep 13, 2022

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Maria Farieta
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Architecture student and Pioneers Endowed Scholarship recipient, Maria Farieta. Photo courtesy of Jelena Dakovic.

If the road to architecture licensure is a marathon, by all accounts, Maria Farieta is making incredible time. This fall, she is prepping for thesis, advising undergraduate students as a Graduate Assistant, entering design competitions and clocking hours with Maryland design firm Grimm+Parker. It’s a lot to take on—but Farieta shows no sign of slowing down.

“You have to,” she laughed. “From the beginning I knew it was challenging to be an architect. As I grow older and get to know the profession, I think that’s it’s the time that it takes to gain licensure that is the biggest obstacle. So, I’m racing against it.”

But of the many steps students take on their journey to licensure, the one that nearly stopped Farieta in her tracks wasn’t the time it would take—it was the cost.

“I fell in love with architecture, it was my dream,” she said. “I knew if I worked hard, there would be a way forward. This was going to happen somehow.”

That somehow, in part, was the financial support she received through the University of Maryland. This fall, Farieta was named the first recipient of the Architecture Pioneers Endowed Scholarship in Architecture, a competitive scholarship established by several female graduates of the school and led by Jane Treacy ’79 and Brenda Sanchez ’78. The Pioneers Endowed Scholarship in Architecture supports undergraduate and graduate students with the purpose of enhancing racial, cultural and gender diversity within the MAPP community and design profession.

“Maria is an incredibly talented, driven student,” says Brian Kelly, associate dean of development and faculty affairs. “Her desire to pursue every opportunity to become a better designer is evident in the quality of work she produces. She is unstoppable, and the perfect candidate for this inaugural scholarship.”

Brought to the U.S. by her parents from Columbia when she was 12, Farieta excelled at both art and science, in time, finding architecture to be the ideal mix of both. The cost of education put a four-year university experience out of her reach; instead Farieta enrolled in Montgomery College’s scholars program on full scholarship. Her associate degree in architecture and technology offered a smooth path to Maryland, where she earned a B.S. Architecture in May of 2020. At the height of the pandemic, she gave the commencement speech for the undergraduate class in her living room surrounded by her family.

“It was a very memorable experience,” she said, not minding the more intimate audience. “My parents have sacrificed so much to provide better opportunities for me and my siblings. It’s a big deal to show them that their efforts have had such a big impact; that it was worth it.”

Farieta said that support like the Architecture Pioneers Endowed Scholarship has given her the freedom to participate fully as a student. This past April, she was part of an interdisciplinary team that took first place at HUD’s national Innovation in Affordable Housing Student Design and Planning Competition. She relished the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy, which, she says helped her see how a city’s past, place and people inform the designs of its future.

“It adds another layer to understanding how buildings work beyond the building itself and how they are part of the whole system,” she said.

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