Tuesday, Sep 2, 2014
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Design grad wants to retrofit homes for injured

Amy McDaniel

For Amy McDaniel, a home represents security and comfort, and she plans to use the skills she learned at Seminole State College of Florida to help ensure that security and comfort for others.

McDaniel, a 42-year-old mother of two, graduated from Seminole State with her Associate in Science (A.S.) in Interior Design in December. She wants to use her professional knowledge in an unorthodox manner.

Rather than enter the commercial sector designing hotels and restaurants, McDaniel wants to help retrofit homes to accommodate people with new, difficult medical problems.

“I think home should be where you feel the most comfortable,” she says, “and there is a large group of people who have trouble with that."

The needs of people who have suffered injuries or traumas sometimes go unnoticed in the interior design community, McDaniel says, and her goal is to help address that issue locally. Seminole State’s Interior Design curriculum addresses the issue in an eye-opening way.

“We were required to maneuver in a wheelchair in a public setting for two hours,” she says in reference to the Barrier Free class she took. “This meant trying to get into bathrooms and elevators. It changed your perspective. You were suddenly very aware of things like signage and flooring transitions and how a simple choice of material could make your end user love a building or hate it.”

Physically challengedwar veterans, victims of violent crime and an aging population are among those whom McDaniel wants to help.

Her husband, Michael, served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 27 years, so she is keenly aware of the types of problems some veterans face upon returning home from war.

“There are so many people who come home from war injured and disabled,” she says. “A lot of times they’re young, and this isn’t something easy for them to deal with. I’ve met many veterans who have lost hands, arms, legs, eyes and general mobility due to injuries they received during the recent wars.”

Her husband is the state adjutant for the American Legion, one of the oldest and largest organizations  for veterans. The legion sponsors a program called Project Homefront that allows civilians to help with community projects geared toward veterans. Project Homefront is just one of the opportunities to help that McDaniel will pursue.

In spring, McDaniel begins classes in Seminole State’s bachelor’s program for Interior Design.

Helping people with injuries to navigate within their homes is a heartfelt goal, McDaniel says.

“It’s not the most glamorous side of design," she says, "but the philosophical values that I was raised with tell me it’s worth it.”

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