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Interior Design Students Connect with Great Circle

November 08, 2016

Devon Sheprow and Brittney Swoboda  
Devon Sheprow, pointing at screen, and Brittany Swoboda present their team's design concepts.

A group of students in the Interior Design program at St. Louis Community College-Meramec have cultivated a relationship within the community that provided real-world experiences which are vital components to fulfilling STLCC’s mission.

Interior Design professors Erin LeClerc and Virginia Heisler and Graphic Design and Digital Media professor Mike Swoboda recently combined these elements in a service-learning project that benefits all involved.

Swoboda, LeClerc and Heisler connected with Great Circle, a Webster Groves agency that provides a unique spectrum of behavioral health services to children and families, about a project to redesign Leighton Cottage, a living area on the Great Circle campus that houses a dozen teenage girls.

Twenty-four Meramec Interior Design students, with the guidance of their professors, were involved in all aspects of the project—from research and planning, to meeting with Great Circle staff and residents, to considering standards, codes and budgets, to the actual creative work—which culminated recently in the presentation of their designs to Great Circle administrators for review.

Students’ Comments on the Project

“This group project was challenging but at the end of the day, it opened our eyes and also our hearts to provide the young women at Great Circle with a safe and secure environment. There is a difference between aesthetics and function and this project was a combination of both, creating a positive home-like setting. We want to thank the staff and students for giving us this opportunity to design the space; we found this project to be extremely rewarding.” -- Heather Hays, Katie Moore, Jessica Riess and Kristen Hanewinkel

Kristen Hanewinkle discusses her team's design  
Kristen Hanewinkel

“Through the use of innovative design concepts, we were able to give the girls of Great Circle a place of hope.  At the same time, as designers, we established an emotional connection to the project that inspired us throughout the design process.  We were challenged to consider the risks and needs of the girls as it applied to the space, and be creative in providing a safe and comforting home environment.”  -- Shannon Sample, Devon Sheprow and Brittany Swoboda

“While given the opportunity to design for Great Circle School, we learned this project could at times be challenging trying to unify both safe and innovative design elements. Through the use of bright energetic colors, subtle textures, and contemporary finishes, we created a space that incorporates organic natural elements to provide a therapeutic and healing environment for the residents of the Leighton Cottage.” -- Abbey Kriegel, Brooke Osecki, Katherine Smith and Mindy Klatt

“The experience has taught us the value of collaboration and responsibility in a group effort. We’ve walked away with a greater awareness of how even the smallest details can have a positive impact on the lives of the girls living in the Leighton Cottage.” -- Ben Johnson, Lian Lawton, Jessica Mendenhall and Tiffany Lakamp

“This design reflects the treatment which the young women are receiving at the Great Circle School in Webster Groves; fun but safe, comforting and educational. This cottage provides them with a fresh new view and a place they can call home. We enjoyed having the opportunity to be a positive influence in these girls’ lives.” -- Dalila Kahvedzic, Heather Lemon, Lindsey Diel and Cindy Walter

“It was very rewarding helping others in need.” -- Erika Robinson

“I enjoyed the thought process and giving back to the community.”-- Kourtney Nyga

“Projects like this really make you appreciate the way you live.” -- Juana Gordillo

“I really enjoy using my time to make an impact on another person’s life.” -- Jennifer Driy

A more detailed story about this project appeared in the Meramec Montage, the campus’ student newspaper.