College Outstanding Senior honored for academic and leadership achievements in Design and Merchandising

Sara Bovaird with Lise Youngblade holding her glass award
Sara Bovaird, left, was awarded the title of Outstanding Senior at the CHHS All-College Awards.

Each year, the Colorado State University College of Health and Human Sciences recognizes a graduating senior for their outstanding academic achievement, leadership, research, and service. This year, Department of Design and Merchandising student Sara Bovaird has been selected to receive the Outstanding Senior award.

“Sara is very deserving of this honor because she exemplifies the qualities of a fully engaged student who excels in her academic endeavors and provides significant leadership within the department,” said Department Head Karen Hyllegard. “She has a generous and giving spirit and is an excellent representative of student achievement at CSU. Sara’s genuine curiosity and appreciation for learning and for embracing new challenges will propel her future professional success and contributions to advancing well-building design.”

Bovaird, who hails from Boulder, Colorado, came to CSU for the campus, the culture, and the well-respected Interior Architecture and Design Program. While at CSU, Bovaird made an impact in many ways including as a leader in student organizations, as a mentor, through her success in her classes, and through an engagement project documenting historic buildings in Sterling, Colorado.

As the College’s Outstanding Senior, Bovaird will address her fellow graduates as the student speaker for the College’s commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 15, at 1 p.m. in Moby Arena. See the college’s website for more details about commencement.


Portrait of Sara Bovaird
Sara Bovaird

Bovaird, a student in the CSU Honors Program, is finishing her degree in interior architecture and design, with a minor in global environmental sustainability. She will graduate magna cum laude with a 3.9 GPA.

At CSU, Bovaird has taken advantage of some unique opportunities. She took part in a study abroad experience in Florence, Italy, which was unfortunately cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My Honors Thesis is focused on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for the design of interior environments,” said Bovaird. “My 80,000-sf senior capstone project applies these health and well-being research-based strategies to the design of a community center.”

Entitled MIRAGE, Bovaird’s capstone project is an arts education center focusing on encouraging collaboration and creativity, which was inspired by the impact visual arts can gave on the growth of a community. Bovaird integrated COVID-19 design and WELL Building practices to provide for human health and well-being.

“Sara is a top student who has demonstrated the highest academic achievement and continually strives for excellence in her work,” said Laura Malinin, associate professor in interior architecture and design. “She regularly exceeds course expectations in design creativity and seeks opportunities to expand her knowledge and skills related to interior design strategies that improve environmental sustainability and support human health and well-being.”

Leadership activities

Sara Bovaird and a friend in front of the ASID sign
Sara Bovaird, right, with a mentee Vivian Natura at the ASID headquarters in Washington D.C.

One of the highlights of Bovaird’s time at CSU was an internship funded by CSU’s Extension and Engagement office in Sterling, Colorado, during summer 2021. During this internship, she worked on a historic preservation project spearheaded by Assistant Professor Maria Delgado, who has created an Architectural Virtual Library documenting the historically significant buildings in Sterling and at CSU.

Bovaird spent the summer using a Matterport Pro2 3D camera to photograph and document the buildings for a virtual tour. You can learn more about Bovaird’s summer internship on CSU’s SOURCE. She was also featured in the Sterling Journal-Advocate for her work on the project.

“Sara is well-deserving of this recognition,” said Delgado. “I witnessed Sara proudly engage with Sterling residents to build the CSU-AVL Sterling web page. Her efforts positively impacted Logan County as the project continues to be a resource for rural K-12 students, the museum, the tourist center, and more. In addition to her work, Sara’s character is also outstanding—she is compassionate, lives by CSU’s Principles of Community, and daily demonstrates what it means to be a Ram.”

Mentored by Delgado, Bovaird’s poster entitled “Architectural Virtual Library: 3D Historic Documentation” won the Innovation in Health and Human Sciences Award and $1,500 at the 2022 Demo Day in April sponsored by CSU Ventures.

Bovaird has also been part of the student team leading the evidence-based design project for the renovation of the Gifford Textiles Science Lab. She worked with Assistant Professor Leah Scolere and three other students to conduct site observations and facilitate visioning sessions with stakeholders in the project.

As a student leader, she’s held the treasurer position of the CSU chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers as well as the vice president of the Design and Merchandising Leadership Team. In this role as vice president, she spearheaded the expansion of the mentorship program to all design and merchandising students, drawing from her own success as a student mentor.

Future plans

Through her involvement, Bovaird took advantage of numerous opportunities that have opened the door for an internship working in her dream discipline of healthcare design with the nationally awarded firm CannonDesign. She hopes to continue in the healthcare field and looks forward to using design to create sustainable environments that foster growth, connectivity, and well-being. But first, she is taking a well-deserved summer break to travel!

The Department of Design and Merchandising is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

Melanie Chaffey contributed to this story.