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LAF Announces Winners of the $25,000 and $15,000 Olmsted Scholar Awards

The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) has announced the two winners and six finalists for its 2020 Olmsted Scholars Program, the premier leadership recognition program for landscape architecture students.

Lys Divine Ndemeye, a master’s student at the University of British Columbia, was selected as the graduate 2020 National Olmsted Scholar and recipient of the $25,000 prize. Multilingual and a leader and active volunteer in various social change organizations, Divine sees the landscape as a key cultural marker and maker that can play a powerful role in decolonizing spaces and empowering marginalized communities towards cultural affirmation and identity. She plans to continue daylighting African cultural landscapes to expand landscape architecture beyond the hegemonic Eurocentric way of operating and to promote the field to Indigenous and African-descent youths.

David Hooper, an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is the undergraduate 2020 National Olmsted Scholar and recipient of the $15,000 prize. With a 10-year career as a photojournalist in the U.S. Navy, David has seen the power of artistic expression and design to transcend boundaries, boost morale, and bring people together. He hopes to use the award to explore ecological gardening as practical therapy for veterans who have experienced trauma. He would like to design a curriculum and program uniquely focused on healing the Earth as well as providing lifelong tools to deal with the effects of trauma.

Also honored are six National Olmsted Scholar Finalists. The graduate finalists, who each received a $5,000 award, are:
  • Madalyn Baldwin, North Carolina State University
  • Martin Egan, University of Colorado, Denver
  • Robert Levinthal, University of Pennsylvania
The undergraduate finalists, who each receive a $3,000 award, are:
  • Aaron Lewis, Iowa State University
  • Jake Tiernan, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Audrey Wilke, University of Maryland, College Park

Two independent juries selected the winners and finalists from a group of 48 master’s and 37 undergraduate students nominated by their faculty for their exceptional leadership potential. These top students earned the designation of 2020 LAF Olmsted Scholar and join the community of 805 LAF Olmsted Scholars named since the program’s inception in 2008.

Now in its thirteenth year, the LAF Olmsted Scholars Program is made possible with support from our lead sponsor The Toro Company, and annual sponsors Deeproot, HOK, IRONSMITH, LandDesign, OLIN, Sasaki, Thomas C. and Gerry D. Donnelly, Steven G. King, FASLA, and Bill Main, Hon. ASLA; Promotion Partner: American Society of Landscape Architects.

See the entire group of 2020 Olmsted Scholars. 

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