Anna Padilla is proof positive that a UNCG education is not “one size fits all.”
The 37-year-old Interior Architecture (IARc) major was born in the Philippines but grew up in suburban Chicago. A significant life transition a few years ago allowed her to explore the completion of her undergraduate education.
She began researching schools that would complement her career aspirations within the commercial lighting industry she had entered before returning to college. Interior architecture was not on her radar, but Padilla wanted to gain foundational knowledge of design principles that run parallel to lighting design. UNCG’s IARc program fit the bill.
“I was lucky to learn about IARc through Tommy Lambeth, who was chair of the department at the time,” says Padilla. “There was genuine enthusiasm and a true passion for his work. I was fortunate to have Tommy as a professor before his retirement. His influence has been amazing.”
Lambeth began teaching in what was then the Department of Housing and Interior Design in 1984 as a part-time instructor. Subsequently he was a full-time faculty member who reveled in unlocking what he calls “creative thinking and making” in his students for 32 more years. For 10 of those years, he served as department chair.
In 2019, prior to retiring, Lambeth established the Carl “Tommy” Lambeth Endowed Scholarship in Interior Architecture. Creative thinking and making are at its heart, celebrating and enabling achievement in the development of these skills. To date, five students have received awards from the scholarship. Its inaugural recipient was Anna Padilla.
On track to graduate in Fall 2024, Padilla plans to have a commercial design position in hospitality or showroom design, as well as her own line of lighting and furniture.
“If not for Tommy’s scholarship that year, I would have been beholden to family or my partner to help pay for supplies required for projects, as well as gas because I am a commuter student,” Padilla says. “I am incredibly grateful to have benefited from Tommy’s generosity.”
By Christin Garton.
Photography of Lambeth and Padilla by Sean Norona.