Feature Stories 2023: Cheyenne Amaral '23: Problem-solving

Cheyenne Amaral pictured in the Claire T. Carney Library
Feature Stories 2023: Cheyenne Amaral '23: Problem-solving
Cheyenne Amaral '23: Problem-solving

Interior architecture + design major is well-equipped for a career in interior design

When looking at different universities, Cheyenne Amaral prioritized a campus that was cost-effective, close to home (New Bedford), and that had an interior architecture + design major. UMass Dartmouth checked all three boxes, while also boasting renowned modernist architecture for her learning space.

"The brutalist architecture of the buildings is beautiful," said Amaral. "Architect Paul Rudolph made these buildings with a mixture of concrete and seashells; you can see them glimmer in the sunlight."

Interior Architecture + Design

Amaral developed a passion for architecture and interior design early in life, as she recalls having a curiosity about the home improvement projects her father worked on in their home. As she grew older and her understanding for such projects increased, so did her intrigue.

What's exciting about the major?

"I enjoy the technical applications to the Interior Architecture + Design (IA+D) program and that it is always a problem-solving career. People should study IA+D because it's fun and serves a purpose for interior environments used by the public."

Did you have a favorite class or professor?

"My three favorite classes were Senior Thesis, Lighting Applications, and Hospitality. My favorite professor is Stephanie McGoldrick. She absolutely loves her students and is always willing to help and provide resources for internships, jobs, scholarships, and more. She will be your favorite teacher!"


The IA+D program at UMass Dartmouth strives to make a difference in UMassD's communities through service-learning. Program Coordinator and Associate Professor Rose Mary Botti-Salitsky calls it a "win-win-win" for students' learning experience, their résumé, and the good of our communities.

How valuable have your service-learning experiences been?

"My favorite thing about my major is the professional environment we experience. Not many students have the opportunity to be able to go outside of the classroom and perform realistic standards of trade in a real-life environment. The most rewarding part about service-learning is the enthusiasm that we receive when seeing clients' reactions to our design. It makes our hard work pay off."

What type of service projects were you a part of?

"In the summer of 2021 I participated in the design process for the recreation room at Tommy's Place – a vacation home for kids fighting cancer. Being part of the design process was difficult but extremely rewarding. We read information about a child who sadly passed away from cancer, and designed the room based off their personality, likes, and dislikes. I remember the child loved the color purple and always used their grandmother’s quilt. The concept of quilts was inspiration for the interactive wall [pictured below]."

Room at Tommy's Place designed by Cheyenne Amaral
Room at Tommy's Place designed by Cheyenne Amaral (image courtesy TommysPlace.org).
Other side of the room at Tommy's Place Cheyenne Amaral designed
Image courtesy TommysPlace.org

"This past semester my institutional design class worked with Cooperative Productions in North Dighton, MA. Their non-profit organization focuses on serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and brain injuries.

"It was an overly exciting and unique experience; we conducted research, observations, interviews, surveys, and careful analysis of the needs and requirements. Not only did we learn how to conduct ourselves with professionalism in a real-life scenario, but we also had to learn how to overcome obstacles when working on group projects."

IAD 302: Institutional Design students pose at a presentation of their designs for renovations to CO-OP
Amaral (bottom left) and her IAD 302: Institutional Design class at a presentation of their designs for renovations to CO-OP.

Designing for a passion 

An animal lover, Amaral's senior thesis's topic was "Educating the General Public on the Health and Wellbeing of Exotic Psittacines," a parrot sanctuary located in Merrimac, MA.

Front desk rendering of a parrot sanctuary as part of Amaral's senior thesis
Rendering of the front desk of a parrot sanctuary in Amaral's senior thesis.
Rendering of retail space at a parrot sanctuary as part of Amaral's senior thesis
Rendering of retail space at a parrot sanctuary in Amaral's senior thesis

Do you have a favorite memory during your time here?

"My favorite memory was our senior thesis presentation on the last day of finals. My senior thesis was incredibly challenging, and I had to overcome many obstacles to finish it. Seeing my classmates and their thesis project was also exciting because they have been working just as hard as I had to complete their work.

"Presenting my thesis to professionals within the industry while expressing my passion was my favorite memory because I created an interior environment for something I genuinely cared for. I received particularly good responses back from the critics, one commenting that they could see my thesis being applied in a practical and realistic application. This comment alone flattered me, and it further dispelled any doubts I had."

Looking back

Amaral made the most of challenging circumstances and tight budgets, preparing herself well for a life of work in a problem-solving field. She recalls working full-time and sacrificing weekends to work during her first two years of school in order to avoid as much student loan debt as possible.

How do you know UMassD was the right choice for you?

"UMassD was the right choice for me because not only did I achieve the degree that I sought after for many years, but I can proudly say that I'm graduating debt-free. I am a first-generation college student, so understanding student loans, tuition, financial aid, and scholarships was completely alien to me."

Do you have any advice for first-year IA+D students?

"Always try to attend professional/student events outside of school! You will meet many individuals that branch off into many different fields of interior design and that may connect you with them one day. I strongly encourage any first-year student to start a LinkedIn page, be connected to your major’s organizations (ASID, RDI, IIDA), and apply to the many different scholarships that Interior Design has to offer for students.

"Purchase a nice PC laptop with a graphics card and a strong processer; the programs we use in the major are very heavily demanding software. If you can’t afford a laptop, there are computer labs in CVPA. Also, organize and save your projects as early as possible; you will need them for your portfolio class in your senior year and this will save time trying to find certain files.

"Be prepared to receive constructive feedback from your professors, professionals, and classmates. This major is not easy, so be prepared to put many hours of work into your studio classes."

Looking ahead

After graduating, Amaral's first step is to begin the planning process for her wedding with her fiancé, Henrique, and she'll begin working at Illuminate, a lighting representative in Boston.

What will your role be at Illuminate?

"My new role within the company is Specification Support, which is assisting specification sales, providing manufacturing budgeting, photometric analysis models, lighting submittal packages, fixture schedules, and meetings with clients. I am excited to fill this new role within the company."

Do you feel prepared to enter the working world?

"I feel ready to work in the professional environment. There are many nuances in the lighting industry, and just like design, it's constantly evolving and there are new innovative ideas being developed every day."