Siobhan Lee from our NYC office had the opportunity to attend this year’s Healthcare Design Expo + Conference as a Herman Miller fellow. Awarded a Herman Miller Healthcare Scholarship, Siobhan was one of a few select recipients in 2017. The annual scholarship program sponsors up to eight emerging professionals seeking licensure to attend the conference, providing reimbursement to cover registration fees, air travel, and hotel room costs.

We recently spoke with Siobhan about what drew her to healthcare, her experience at HCD, and why other young professionals should apply next year.

Tell me a little about your background prior to joining CannonDesign.
I’m originally from Vancouver. I completed my Master of Architecture at Cornell in 2015, after going straight through from earning my Bachelor’s degree in in Human Biology. I interned at the NYC Office in 2014, and was fortunate enough to be hired back full time after completing the architecture program.

Have you always worked in the health market?
As an intern, I worked in both education and health. But when I started working full time, it was straight into the healthcare market.

Was working in health something you chose or did it just happen?
I was open to any opportunity after completing grad school, but I was definitely interested in healthcare architecture. With my background studying health as an undergrad, I think it was a natural progression. Medical jargon and “doctor talk” aren’t foreign to me, so it was nice to stay in that world. I wasn’t originally sure how I would tie the two together, so this career opportunity has allowed me to come full circle with my education.

What inspires you about healthcare design?
I’m really inspired by the impact that the built environment can have on patients and staff, and how architecture can play a role in keeping people healthy. I feel like it’s something that people don’t really notice, but when it works, it makes a dramatic difference to providers and patients. And the more I work in it, the more I respect the professionals who work in healthcare and health design.

What project are you currently working on?
The Advanced Surgical Pavilion at Northwell Health in Manhasset, Long Island. We just received notification that we can proceed into CDs, so we are rolling right into that phase now. It’s a really complicated and exciting project.

How did you learn about the Herman Miller Scholarship?
Through Joshua Barnett, who sent an email out to a few of us here on the healthcare team. I looked at the application, and it seemed very doable. An essay, letter of recommendation, and resume. Rob Masters was kind enough to write my letter of recommendation.

Did you have to write about a specific topic?
My essay was about why I wanted the scholarship and my interest in healthcare. I wrote about my background and what led me to this position, and why I like it so much.

What was your favorite aspect of the conference?
Meeting the other Herman Miller fellows, because they were from places that I had never been to. I didn’t think my network would expand to Minnesota and Florida, so it was good to hear about the type of work they are doing in different states and with different clients.

One fellow I met works with Native American community groups, and that was really interesting to hear how their meetings work, and how they apply different rituals. Everyone was so friendly, and I wasn’t sure what to expect before going, but it was a lot of fun.

Would you encourage others to apply next year?
Definitely! If you can attend a conference, and be nerdy, it’s worth going. Not only is it good exposure to the industry, it’s valuable to see how others have played out their careers to work in healthcare architecture. And by being engaged in these opportunities, it shows others in the field that young, emerging professionals have an interest in healthcare design.

Pancakes or waffles?
Pancakes, because you can have more variations. Bananas, blueberries, the list is endless.