‘I’ve Always Wanted to Be an Interior Designer’
From a young age, Jalessi Aviles ’25 had a dream job in mind: interior designer.
In her fifth-grade yearbook, the words “aspiring interior designer” appear underneath her portrait. Fast-forward to today, and she’s thriving as an interior architecture student, with an assist from a little practice at home as well as Endicott’s Inspire Scholarship for first-generation students.
Growing up, Aviles’ mother let her design whatever she wanted in the house. “I would go corner by corner,” recalled Aviles. “We’d also go to HomeGoods every weekend—it was our thing.”
Aviles grew up in Lexington, Mass., with a single mother. “My mom never went to college, so before applying to Endicott, she was like, ‘We actually have to go through the numbers and see if it’s manageable.’ Luckily, the Inspire Scholarship helped me a lot,” she said. “I just think that it’s an amazing scholarship, and it gives kids a chance to go to college.”
Once Aviles stepped foot on the Beverly campus, it was love at first sight. “I was like, ‘This is where I’m going,’” she said. “It was the first school I looked at, and I was like, ‘I don’t need to see any more.’”
One of the elements that attracted her to Endicott was its internship program, which she’s already participating in. Today, Aviles is interning at a wedding venue in Waltham and for Jane Riley Design in Lexington, which was founded by interior designer Christine McEwen.
“I've known her for a while, and I just love that she’s always wanting my advice and treats me as an equal,” Aviles said of McEwen, whom she previously worked for while attending high school. “She’s really good at bringing out my confidence.”
That confidence, boosted by hands-on experience from her internship, helps Aviles create presentations on how different furnishings, lighting, and beyond could transform a client’s space.
“We show them what their house could look like,” she explained. “It’s interesting because we’ve been doing this in school, so it’s nice to see that what I’m doing is reflective of the real world.”
Working with clients isn’t anything new for Aviles, though. Last summer, she was one of the top salespeople at Dormify, a company specializing in dorm decor.
“People would come into the showroom, and I would help them design their dream dorm bed,” she said. “It helped me work with people and learn how to sell and not be pushy. I also met the founder of Dormify, and she was like, ‘We can’t wait to hire you when you’re a designer.’ It was a really good experience.”
Though the road to a career in interior design isn’t always an easy one, Aviles calls herself a workhorse who is committed to realizing her dream.
“I’ve already learned so much. That sounds like a perfect answer, but I have learned a lot,” she said. “And I’m very passionate about interior architecture, so I think that makes a difference. I’m taking in all the information from my teachers.”
Just take one look at her dorm room, and it’s abundantly clear: This is a future designer.
“I have removable wallpaper I put up and a stick-on headboard,” Aviles said. “Everyone was like, ‘You're so dramatic.’ But because I worked at Dormify, I got a lot of it for free. So why wouldn’t I go all out?”
If you are interested in learning more about how you can support students like Jalessi through the Inspire Scholarship, contact Anthony Barbuto, Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-232-2362.
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