The NYC-based school is educating the designers of tomorrow, both on-site and online.
New York School of Interior Design is a private, not-for-profit college devoted to the design of the interior environment. It has a long history of helping students realize their dreams, including those pursuing an education after leaving the military.
Lukas North is no stranger to being challenged. After graduating with an art degree at 22, he enlisted in the Army.
“I didn’t know where I was headed and had always wanted to be in the military. … I didn’t want an office job, so I became an infantryman,” he said.
Before his enlistment ended in 2014, North deployed to Afghanistan. He then spent a year traveling to figure out what he wanted to do after hanging up his military uniform.
One night, after watching a design show, he had the idea to go back to school. Research showed him that NYSID was a top school choice for what he wanted to pursue. It offers various options depending on a student’s goals, from a one-year Basic Interior Design certificate program, to a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design and up to and including multiple graduate level master’s degrees.
North says he knew the school would challenge him, but his military experience set him up for success.
“I watch other students stress about everything, but I don’t. The hardest thing I will ever have done is be in the military, be deployed and be in combat,” he said.
And now North is intersecting his experiences with his NYSID education to improve the lives of others, including those still serving. He is designing shipping containers to be homes for troops deployed overseas — an incredible improvement from what they currently have. He also sees the potential for the structures to become tiny homes for the homeless.
More than 200,000 service members transition from the military annually, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and finding a new purpose and focus remains a leading hardship. North offers advice to veterans who may feel lost.
“Be willing to put yourself out of your comfort zone. Don’t put yourself in a box,” he said.
NYSID isn’t just home to veterans, but military spouses. Julissa Rodriguez spent almost 20 years working in the field of dentistry, but always had a knack for design. After she and her soldier purchased their first home and designed it, she knew that’s what she wanted to do.
“This has been my passion since I was little. I’ve always loved everything about decorating and designing. The fact that I was able to do everything online through this school has been very helpful because it’s so flexible with this life,” she said.
In the midst of starting school, Rodriguez’s family PCS’ed to Colorado. With the ability to take classes at her own pace, she was able to maintain her full-time job and family life without issue. This is a familiar struggle for many military spouses trying to juggle the demand of military life with personal aspirations. Luckily, NYSID offered her the tools to still succeed at school while navigating the relocation. She was also able to use her husband’s GI Bill to attend the prestigious school at no cost.
Rodriguez hopes to put her design education to work by starting a company with her husband who plans to go into real estate.
And the experience at NYSID has taught Rodriguez to just “go for it,” something she encourages other military spouses considering a similar path to do. North adds that veterans should think broadly about the possibilities in front of them.
“Try random things, don’t confine yourself into a box. Have the box to focus on things you decided to put in it, but before that … explore everything,” he added.