Interior design and hospitality and tourism management double major Elise Crawford found just the right combination of academics, support and culture when she chose Appalachian State University. Knowing she wanted to pursue a career in design and hospitality with a sustainability focus, locating the right program proved challenging.
“None of the other schools quite offered the two majors I wanted, or even if they did, they weren’t willing to help me manage both,” she recalled.
“Appalachian professors and advisors have always been interested in my career path and very encouraging,” she said.
“They have been realistic in that it will be a lot of work, but instead of trying to dissuade me, they have always tried to help make it happen, and that was one of the reasons App was perfect for me.”
Now a few years in her studies, she’s focusing more on the growing field of event design, which takes event planning one step further.
“I still want to have a hand in the planning of events, but I also want to design for the event,” she explained. “Events are becoming more about the complete experience – the sight, sound, smell and taste of the event. Whether it be signage, invitations or room set-up, there is plenty of design needed for events to be professional and well-run.”
Appalachian’s focus on sustainability played a role in Crawford’s choice of schools. While in high school, she worked at an event venue and noticed the waste after each event.
“There are ways you can still make an event look amazing without having to fill it with paper products and flowers that will just be thrown away at the end of the night,” she said. “And, creative solutions can be used to figure out a plan to minimize food waste, because there’s no need to throw away good food.”
Long term, Crawford’s goal is to design events that are environmentally sensitive and produce close to zero waste.
“My goal is to find a company that aligns with my beliefs about sustainable practices in event planning and design,” she said.
“I am hopeful that even more event companies will start creating roles for designers, so there could be a lot of opportunities for me once I graduate!”