Student Feature: Q&A with Chelsea Metheny

Chelsea Metheny poses with her Deborah Thomas Memorial Award for Meritorious Service
Chelsea Metheny poses with her Deborah Thomas Memorial Award for Meritorious Service

Chelsea Metheny is an absolute go-getter. As Design Institute of San Diego’s current ASID Student Chapter President, this hard-working senior was recently awarded the Deborah Thomas Memorial Award for Meritorious Service, proof that her incredible efforts in leading this year’s student board did not go unnoticed. We asked Chelsea about how she went from the Navy to interior design in this latest Student Profile.

Q&A with Chelsea Metheny

What made you want to apply to DI?

I’ve always been interested in artistic things.  I loved art class as a kid and I often made my friends and family gifts.  After high school, I went to the United States Naval Academy which requires a 5-year service commitment after graduation.  After leaving Annapolis, I spent over 7 years serving as a Naval Officer.  In 2015, I had to decide if I would accept a bonus and serve at least 3 more years or get out of the Navy. 

I was recently married and my husband had also left the Navy. I really wanted to do interior design but knew I had no training. So I searched interior design schools and DI came up as a top school in the area.  I asked for additional information and within a half hour [Director of Admissions] Liz Barry contacted me and I had a visit scheduled that week.  I knew the school would be amazing by their quick response time and I was further impressed after touring the campus.

What are your career goals?

I ultimately want to start my own business and grow it nationwide and eventually internationally.  In the near future, I would like to work for a large firm that does hospitality design as well as high-end residential.  I am working to find my own niche and style

Female student working on interior design project

Where is your hometown?

I grew up in Elkins, WV.  It is a small town in the northeastern part of West Virginia. I was born and raised in a historical house that was built in the early 1800s.  My parents restored the house when I was young and still live there today. Old homes have since intrigued me and my childhood home may have inadvertently launched me into an interior design career.

What were you doing prior to going to DI?

I was serving as a Naval Officer at Third Fleet in Point Loma.  I was the fleet watch officer.  I monitored and assisted all the ships from Alaska to Mexico and out to the international date line.

What has being ASID Student Chapter President been like for you?

Being the ASID Student Chapter President has been both challenging and rewarding.  Leading my peers was one of the most difficult leadership positions I’ve ever held.  I was thankful that so many of my classmates participated. They made my job easy as they are very proactive and follow through with tasks.  With a large board we planned out our year and got to work.  Our goals for the 2017-2018 year are to bridge the gap between students and professionals, encourage responsibility and participation in events and community events, increase student membership, hold fundraising events and increase social media presence. From these five goals we came up with the mission statement, “Bridging the gap between students and professionals through networking, mentorship, and community outreach.” So far we have been extremely successful.

Chelsea (far right) with the ASID Student Chapter Board Members at their holiday party
Chelsea (far right) with the ASID Student Chapter Board Members at their holiday party

What are your proudest accomplishments so far?

My proudest accomplishments so far have been my ongoing professional and academic achievements.  I have earned a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics from the United States Naval Academy, qualified as a Surface Warfare Officer and will compete my second bachelors in interior design this summer. Taking what I have learned as a junior officer, I have developed further in my professional development as an interior designer.  I am extremely proud of the diverse background and extensive experience I bring to the interior design world.

What was it like to receive the Deborah Thomas Memorial Award for Meritorious Service?

I was very humbled and honored to receive the Deborah Thomas Memorial Award for Meritorious Service. I was asked to write an essay which explained my participation in serving the student as well as the professional ASID chapter to include interior design within the community.  I was also asked to elaborate on opportunities that exhibited my leadership strengths and skills.  I explained in my essay that I have volunteered at numerous ASID professional chapter events to include two holiday parties and student career day. I was extremely proud to receive the award and look forward to the opportunity to continue to embody the attributes of a successful and respected interior designer.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to apply to DI?

My advice would be to go for it and don’t give up!  Don’t be intimidated or tell yourself you can’t do it.  I did the same thing when I looked at the projects in the front hallway of the school. I completely surprised myself. The teachers, just in your first semester, will introduce you to new ways of thinking that will broaden your skills.  If you want to be successful in the interior design field, DI will prepare you for a career. You will learn more than you can ever imagine and will be more than happy with your choice.  Follow your passion and you will find that you will be happy and fulfilled for the rest of your life!

Chelsea Metheny - A smiling female student with arms crossed

What makes DI different?

DI does an exceptional job of instilling the basics into students. You learn how to craft things by hand and you learn the elements and the history of design before you ever create anything on a computer.  This is where I think DI outdoes the competition.  All graduates of DI have a solid foundation and their skills are invaluable.  If you design first by space planning on CAD (Computer Aided Design) you will never understand line weights, placement of furniture or the research behind a certain plan.  DI teaches you to explain why you’ve chosen a certain material or design beyond the idea that you just like it.  Anybody can say they want rounded corners within a space but if you can explain that the rounded corners are because PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) patients are intimated by blind corners you have just sold your idea to your client.

Anything else you’d like to add?

My time at DI has gone by much quicker than I realized.  I’m so thankful for the teachers, staff and the support from my husband and family throughout my time at the school. I have learned more than I could ever imagine. I’m excited to finally put my hard work to us.  If you would have asked me 10 years ago, if I would be living in San Diego, studying to become an interior designer, I would have never believed you.  I have learned more about my drive, passion, and dedication to something more in the past three years than I ever have.  I’m grateful for this opportunity and hope I can make a positive impact on people’s lives in the future.