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Designing a Successful Career at Orange Coast College Student Spotlight
Karina Lagace describes herself as someone who is passionate about the interior design field and who believes a good education paired with an inner desire to grow and learn are key to a successful career path. Which is why she came to Orange Coast College.
Lagace, a married mother of two children, began working for an architectural firm shortly after enrolling at Orange Coast College’s Interior Design program and has since helped design model homes from Orange County to Arizona, has worked as a consultant on remodel projects throughout greater Los Angeles, and designed the first Starbuck’s store inside a national park.
“I can’t say enough about my experience at Orange Coast College,” she said. “It is very affordable, you don’t have to take a bunch of loans to enroll, the teachers are highly skilled who worked in the field and provide valuable feedback, and you have a good opportunity to network, which is invaluable in finding work.”
Orange Coast College offers numerous options – developed by educators and industry professionals with an interdisciplinary approach – for students to embark on a career or hone their skills as they seek advancement at work. Among them: an associate degree in interior design and certificates in interior merchandising, interior design professional, and kitchen and bath.
A native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, Lagace was impressed with the program as soon as she signed up for her first class in 2001. She soon secured a pair of internships, one with a restaurant design group and the other with a commercial design firm. Taking classes off and on while focusing on raising her children, now 11 and 15, Lagace earned an associate degree in science and a certificate in interior design in 2015. The skills she learned along the way, however, allowed her to work for several design firms and as a design consultant.
For the past several years, Lagace has been working as an interior designer with Starbucks, primarily in the Los Angeles area. She made history, however, as a Starbucks design manager whose projects include the first Starbucks at a national park, a one-of-a-kind café tucked away in Yosemite National Park with floor-to-ceiling windows at the park’s Base Camp Eatery. Built with sustainable and recyclable material, it’s also the first retail location at Yosemite too earn LEED, an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification.
“We put a lot of thought into the design,” Lagace said. “We wanted to be respectful of the park and added only what we needed to.”
Lagace’s former instructors say Lagace embodies the success of Orange Coast College’s career education programs.
“Karina is an outstanding example of a student who engaged in her classes and the Orange Coast College community,” said Charlene Reed, Interior Design Program Coordinator. “She started the first OCC Interior Design club and served as president. She worked to collaborate with other students and help make connections with industry partners. Karina also participated in internships and was hired by a local architecture and interior design firm before moving to her current position with Starbucks. We are proud of her position working for Starbucks as a designer and we have welcomed her back to talk to our current students about her education and career journey. Karina embodies the spirit and mission of OCC in being a life-long learner and continuing to return to inspire and foster the learning of the future designers.”
Interior Design Professor Renee Kubiak agrees.
“Karina was the first recipient (17 years ago) to receive the very first scholarship granted by the OCC Interior Design Program. It continues to be awarded each year to an outstanding student who demonstrates integrity, dedication, and a sincere compassion for other students. The name of this scholarship is the D. Travis Kubiak Spirit Scholarship. Yes, this endowed scholarship is named after my son. Karina is a true model for this recognition as a past student, and now as a professional Interior Designer.”
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