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IAD International Graduate Students Hopeful for a Promising and Innovative Future

Published October 7, 2021

Sarah Rifqi and Abdulelah Bukhari, two Interior Architecture & Design graduate students from Saudi Arabia, will be completing their master’s degrees in December 2021. Rifqi and Bukhari are dedicated and passionate designers pursuing their secondary degrees to further their careers and knowledge and insight in the field.  

Rifqi is an adjunct instructor in the Department for the fall 2021 semester, teaching the Design Foundations 1 class.

Sarah Rifqi

Her thesis research presentation was accepted into the Interior Design Educators Council national fall symposium, which addresses the role of furniture in supporting women’s dignity within domestic violence shelters.  

 “I was able to discover many research interests that I didn’t have a chance to explore during my undergraduate study,” said Rifqi. She is passionate about helping traumatized populations such as domestic violence victims, and pursuing a master’s degree in interior design was instrumental in helping her to accomplish this goal. Rifqi also achieved a lifelong goal of studying abroad and experiencing American culture through her time at FSU.  

Rifqi said she was particularly impressed with IAD’s faculty, as well as FSU’s resources and campus. She spoke highly of her experience working with IAD faculty, saying they are highly qualified and committed to helping students achieve their educational goals. 

Bukhari is working as a teaching assistant for professor Stephanie Sickler in the fall semester with the Materials and Methods course instruction and preparation. This past summer, he successfully defended his Master of Science graduate project that explored residential design for young Saudi Arabian professionals. Bukhari was able to attend the IAD graduate program after receiving a scholarship through an outside agency. 

Bukhari says that he had many reasons for pursuing his master’s degree in Interior Design, but it all comes down to passion, practice, and opportunity. “While getting my bachelor’s degree, I felt that I learned a lot in the last years but was it enough?” said Bukhari. “I’ve always admired famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Zaha Hadid, Luis Kahn, and many more, and I felt that I wouldn’t be as half as good as them at the undergraduate level. Therefore, I decided that I have to improve myself and learn more.”  

Abdulelah Bukhari

While working in a small architecture firm for seven months, Bukhari began to realize his interest in small interior spaces and projects. “Small and exciting coffee shops started to attract me, well-designed restaurants, houses, galleries, and spaces began to gain my attention,” he explained.  

 Bukhari was drawn to the graduate program at FSU for similar reasons as Rifqi, including the events and activities that are provided by graduate clubs and communities, as well as the architectural aesthetic of FSU’s campus. 

“The department has excellent faculty who have participated in many events, achieved many awards, and published many books, articles, and papers,” said Bukhari. “There’s also the high ranking that the department of Interior Architecture and design has.” 

 After graduation, Rifqi plans to apply for a Ph.D. in Interior Design program to investigate potential solutions for excessive energy consumption in her home country of Saudi Arabia. She also desires to expand her research skills, prepare to effectively engage in teaching careers, and serve her community.  

Bukhari said he is considering several options for his career after graduation and is considering a teaching appointment through the same agency which provided him with his scholarship. He said he would also like to work for a local architecture firm in Tallahassee to gain more practical experience. Ultimately, Bukhari says, he would like to own his own architecture firm. “Having my own architecture firm was always one of my dreams because seeing my own designs and leaving my mark in the world is one of my goals,” he said.