MSUD, 1st year
Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana
Educational Background: Bachelor of Architecture
How did you get interested in your field?
I’ve always cherished the importance of people and their connection to community. That was instilled in me really after Hurricane Katrina. At nine-years-old, as my family was riding out the storm two hours away, my parents sat my siblings and I down and said, “We may not have a house to go to when we go home.” I didn’t realize the weight of what it meant, but all that mattered is we were going home, house or no house. Then, going through architecture school ten years later, I always felt that the buildings I designed never achieved the lofty goals of connecting people to community. I began to realize that while the building was important, it was the spaces and moments that buildings shaped around it that I was interested in and that truly created that connection between people and community. I didn’t fully know what I was getting myself into when I decided to go and study Urban Design, but I knew the passion and interest I had was beyond just standard architecture. Honestly, it has ended up expanding my understanding of what I’m passionate about, and how to impact and unite communities.
What was your background prior to coming to UTSOA?
Prior to UTSOA, I had a professional B. Arch from Louisiana State University and had worked in a variety of architectural firms as an intern.
Why did you choose UTSOA?
All the schools I had been accepted to had top-rated programs with tons of external support and tech lab access, so for me the final decision came down to the finances of it. The Urban Design program at UTSOA really invests in their students both financially and with their time. They offered me a great scholarship with opportunities to work with professors on publications and research, and that really was the deciding factor.
What has been your favorite class or thing about UTSOA so far?
My favorite class is the Urban Design Theory/History class. Dean Almy, who oversees the Urban Design program, teaches the class much more as a story rather than your typical history class. I was really engaged and excited to go to this class because it took a complex, comprehensive look at Urban Design theory over time, and allowed me to understand the important elements and how they connect through time.
My favorite thing would be participating in the ULI Hines Student competition. Basically, in two weeks with an interdisciplinary team of five people, you create an Urban Design proposal for a selected site (google this competition if you haven’t heard of it!). UTSOA invests a lot of support in helping the teams succeed through external mentors who volunteer their time, resources to test print and experiment, and knowledge about topics such as sustainable communities. It was an insane two weeks, but all the support and encouragement from the school made it worth it, especially when my team was selected as a National Honorable Mention.
What are you learning right now that will help you in the future?
The ability to be flexible while remaining professional and creating a high-quality product. My studio is being taught by practicing professionals at Lake|Flato and Gehl Architects. With everything going on in the world, everyone is having to adapt quickly and change their lifestyles and workstyles, and our professors are really encouraging and guiding us through all this craziness.
What do you like best about Austin?
The vibe of the city, and the hiking trails. You really can just walk around the city and discover new markets, music venues, or even restaurants in just such a short walk. In addition, almost anywhere you are you are like ten minutes away from a hike/bike trail which is a great way to get you out of studio. Plus, EVERYONE has a dog here so you can meet and make new furry friends and people friends all the time.
What kinds of activities and/or organizations are you involved in?
I am most involved with a local church called Austin Life Church. I volunteer to run their soundboard or media slides during service, and I also attend community group with my friends from here. I also volunteer at Angel House Soup Kitchen which is run by the Austin Baptist Chapel.
What are your career ambitions?
The dream would be to head or start a non-profit portion of a firm that is using architectural and urban design to improve disadvantaged communities.