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A safe pair of hands: Senior interior architecture major wins second place in the OSCARS

Nife Oseni is a senior pursuing a bachelor’s degree in interior architecture at the College of Fine Arts. He is passionate about creating contemporary and inclusive spaces. He plans to gain expertise in interior architecture and design and project management to pursue an architectural design management role.  

Oseni has had a busy undergraduate career, obtaining his project management certificate through the Russ College of Engineering and Technology and both a studio art minor through the College of Fine Arts and a business administration minor from the College of Business. On a professional level, he is a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) through the Project Management Institute (PMI). He is studying to obtain his Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation before he graduates in May this year.

A Chicago native, Oseni says hopes to take all the experience and expertise from OHIO back home to practice. He told us he is motivated by his family, inspired by his mom and his faith. He also plays on the OHIO Bobcat football team, wearing jersey number 2, and plays as a dependable safety.  

Oseni recently came second in the University’s research competition, the OSCARS, winning a cash prize of $1,000. The OSCARS, based on the Three Minute Thesis® (3MT), challenges undergraduate students to deliver a presentation on their research work and creative endeavors in under three minutes.  

We caught up with him to answer a few questions about his OHIO experience.

Q & A with Nife Oseni

Q: Congratulations on placing in the OSCARS! Can you tell us briefly what your thesis in the contest was about?  

Thank you, I appreciate it.  

There is a large population of at-risk youth and individuals who lack the means to attend college or find a viable trade. In exploring the intersection of building design and social issues, my thesis research explores the challenges faced by low-income young adults in Chicago, particularly the barriers to accessing higher education because of experiences with the current educational building design.  

The proposed evidenced-based plan is to create a multifaceted institution—a fusion of a university, trade school, mentorship program, and employment hub, that aims to attract young adults through a sense of safety and comfort as well as eliminating common deficiencies within traditional educational buildings by offering opportunities for personalization and flexibility.  

Q: The competition gives you only three minutes to present your idea. How were you able to condense your research to fit the time limit?  

Since I had to condense my research into three minutes, I decided to highlight the findings and emphasize the importance of building design and how it affects our physical, social, and emotional well-being.  

Q: Did you have a team or someone help out in preparing for the contest? And how long did preparations take?  

Our studio professor, Dr. Nichole Campbell, helped prepare me for the OSCARS Presentation. She brought it up when we returned from winter break, and we started working on it.   

Q: Your major is interior architecture, focusing on architectural design. What impact do you want to make with the knowledge gained in these areas?  

With my degree, I hope to contribute to the world by creating and designing spaces that positively impact humans and the environment through sustainable design.  

Q: Can you tell us more about your goal of creating contemporary and inclusive spaces that welcome and celebrate all? 

I believe a great-designed space can become a great-designed place. Many people associate core memories with the environment in which they were at that time.  

My goal? To create spaces that evoke positive memories that people associate with and can reminisce on.  

Q: Do you have other interests and hobbies?  

Yes, I love playing the alto saxophone. Currently, I am relearning the piano.  

Q: Outside pursuing a bachelor’s in interior architecture, you’re also on the OHIO football team. How are you balancing both of these demanding worlds?  

Time management and accountability have been the main things that allow me to balance both worlds. With football, we have a set schedule for our lifts and practices. If I am late or miss those sessions, I am held accountable. I apply that football mentality to my education because football can only take me so far. It also helps to have a planner.  

Q: We read you want to return to Chicago and take on an architectural design management role. How important is Chicago in terms of going back with all this knowledge and experience to practice there specifically?  

I am proud to be from Chicago and was blessed to grow up there. I believe, however, that we can do a lot to impact the city positively. There are common misconceptions about Chicago due to negative stereotypes and media that give people a negative view of Chicago. It might be a biased perspective, but some of the best and brightest people I know came from the Chicagoland area but were never able to showcase their brilliance. I must return to Chicago and give back to the place that made me who I am today.  

Q: What is a piece of advice that you would give to anyone thinking about trying out the OSCARS?  

If your research is significant to you, then you should approach the OSCARS as such. Take a professional approach to it.  

April 1, 2024
Kweku Diaw, MA '25