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The AIA Central PA Architects Foundation Fund chose Christina Accomando to receive its annual scholarship.

A scholarship awarded annually to an area Architecture student has been a fulfilling way in recent years for Frank Dittenhafer of Murphy & Dittenhafer Architects to help advance both the field and local communities.

Each year it brings smiles, excitement and great pride for the recipient, Dittenhafer says.

“This is a way for us to reward a young, talented person we feel can make a strong contribution,” he says. “The recognition means a lot to them, too, and they’re very grateful.”

About the award

The Central Pennsylvania Architects Foundation Fund Architecture Scholarship has been given for the past seven years to one student from a 13-county area whose career objectives and design ideas point to future success in Architecture. 

The $1,000 award is presented each fall to the winner, who’s selected by the current and past presidents of the American Institute of Architects’ Central Pennsylvania chapter.

This year’s winner, Christina Accomando, met those AIA Presidents and other Central PA professionals and picked up her prize at the AIA’s annual Design Awards event in York at The Bond on Oct. 5.

Promoting architecture

Dittenhafer says the idea for the award arose more than 15 years ago, with his Central PA AIA chapter looking to do something to help promote the study of Architecture – and lend a hand to local students who showed dedication and aptitude. Anyone with a mailing address within the chapter’s 13 counties studying Architecture at any level would be eligible, no matter where they went to school.

Students are asked to write a one-page letter in which they explain their interest in the field and their career goals. Also, they’re able to submit up to four pages of their design work and/or community involvement for careful evaluation. 

“It gives us a really good feel for what they’re passionate about and where they are in their careers,” Dittenhafer says. “The level of work we’ve seen from the applicants is just terrific.”

About this year’s recipient

Christina Accomando, an Architecture Technology major at Harrisburg Area Community College, is a mother of two who decided to go back to school after working as a self-employed artist, an admission professional for Franklin and Marshall College, and a Study Abroad Program Coordinator at Millersville University.

But something was missing for Christina. Fascinated by drafting as a language and as a work of art, she decided she wanted to obtain the tools and skills to pursue it within a career. Her research led her to HACC.

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“I see structures in a whole new way,” she wrote in her application. “I finally see the third dimension and how a sequence of spaces and well-chosen materials can invite you to feel - how a structure can make your senses come to life. I learned how the emotion in music can guide design, how site forces and building materials can connect seamlessly to work within nature.”

This grant is just the beginning for Christina.

“I can see out into my future 25 years from now and I know I’ll be a hardworking, successful, expert, in the Architecture field,” she wrote. “I hope to teach my children that there are opportunities for second chances and to pursue your passions at any stage in life.”


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