Safeer Shersad
Safeer Shersad

Safeer Shersad, a student from India, is the first recipient of the Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund, established by the NIPSEA Group better known throughout Asia as Nippon Paint. With the fund, Safeer is attending the prestigious Harvard GSD as a candidate of the Master in Urban Planning. For someone who had initially planned to pursue a career in culinary arts growing up, stepping into Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (Harvard GSD) was more than just a dream come true. It is a shared memory and an emotional journey between 24-year-old Safeer and his late father, who was instrumental in leading Safeer towards his true calling in life.

“I am very grateful for the support from Nippon Paint and the Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund. Harvard GSD’s studio pedagogy has given me the opportunity to work with real clients on pressing challenges facing the world today, such as creating inclusive participatory tools, ameliorating the impacts of climate change through renewable energy provision, and designing public housing for older adults and immigrant populations. It is truly a privilege to be part of a peer group that inspires me to collaborate on projects that address the needs of the communities that need it the most,” said Safeer Shersad. “I hope to continue this work of tackling global dilemmas and strains that face underprivileged communities through my academic and professional work.”

Safeer’s father, a doctor who dedicated his life to healing others, had always emphasized the value of service, education, and life-long learning to his children. Unfortunately, his sudden demise left the family in anguish and grief. Reeling from this loss but determined to uphold his father’s principles of uncompromising work ethic, Safeer worked on a tight schedule to complete his standardized tests and application requirements in just two weeks. This successful application successfully secured a candidacy for the masters program at the Harvard GSD. Through the Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund, Safeer was awarded US$20,000 to pursue his goals of providing inclusive urban design solutions to solve global challenges at the local level.

Safeer is a firm believer that cities should cater to the needs of all of their inhabitants. Applying design to empower marginalized communities has always been an important priority for Safeer, and one of his life goals is to design solutions to address such needs. Over this past summer, he worked with NBBJ, a global design firm, on the Boston Downtown Plan – a comprehensive planning project which aims to accommodate Boston’s growing population while retaining the Downtown’s dense, historic fabric. As part of this plan, he worked on mapping baseline geospatial data, and using these indicators to develop public realm recommendations to create inclusive public spaces in the downtown of one of the most iconic cities in the world.

“Safeer showed academic excellence, curiosity and potential in my first semester core studio, where he created a masterplan and participatory strategy for an industrial site in South Boston. He is now a teaching assistant for this studio, and effectively guides my students to build up their technical skills in research and representation. With an interest in design, strategic planning and transportation, Safeer is well positioned to take advantage of the multi-disciplinary curriculum and engagement offered at the GSD, and I am excited about his future,” said Toni L. Griffin, Professor in Practice of Urban Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

The Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund was established by Nippon Paint to provide talented young designers funding toward a world-class design education at Harvard GSD. The fund was created as part of Nippon Paint’s commitment to equip young Asian design talents with knowledge and skills to address challenges relating to Asia’s need for urbanisation solutions in a rapidly-growing population.

“Nippon Paint believes that education is the key to helping design talents develop skills and achieve sustained advancement for their professional development. We are passionate about leading initiatives to help groom game-changers in Asia, and hope to build a strong support ecosystem through world-class education providers such as Harvard GSD. We believe that young designers should harness the intention of using design to better the lives of the people and bring this mindset with them as they enter the professional field,” said Mr Wee Siew Kim, CEO of NIPSEA Group.

In addition to the Gennosuke Obata Fellowship Fund, Nippon Paint has also developed another global initiative known as the Asia Young Designer Awards (AYDA). It is a platform that allows young design talents to identify pressing world or community needs and propose design solutions to address these issues. Established in 2008, the AYDA has grown to become one of Asia’s premier design awards, and students in Asia get to receive hands-on learning opportunities from key industry players as well as fellow architecture and interior design peers in the region.

To take part in the next installment of AYDA, students can visit https://www.asiayoungdesignerawards.com/ to find out more and register for participation.

For details on this press release, please visit: http://www.acnnewswire.com/press-release/english/55789/nippon-paint-gennosuke-obata-fellowship-fund.

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