It is hard to say exactly when I came to realize that I was meant to be a designer, but if I had to pick a moment in time, I think I could honestly say it was the summer of 1998. During the summers, starting well before I was in high school, I began to accompany my stepfather to his job, or rather, his job sites. My stepfather is a carpenter, which meant I spent my time working under him as a construction laborer, mostly on residential and light commercial buildings. By the time I could drive a car I had already well over a thousand hours of hands on experience on construction sites. I’m sure your wondering “isn’t that a child labor law violation?” Technically, yes, I did work longer and harder at an age younger than is legally alowed by law, but with reason. Originally the decision for me to be taken to work with my stepfather was to keep my out of trouble, and away form the neighborhood gangs. It was not until I was much older that I realized and appreciated the value of that work experience.
I choose to attend the Magnet Architecture and Design program at Northeast High School in Oakland Park, Florida. Unlike most high school students, my non-core courses were oriented towards design. I learned how to use and even became quite experienced with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and well versed in drafting and modeling by hand at scale. Those skills aside, the most valuable high school experiences for me were working one on one with the registered architect who thaught at our school. Nearing the end of high school, my options for college were rather limited despite being highly ranked and scoring well. Fortunately, I was awarded a significant scholarship from the Rotary Society, and perhaps more valuable than the scholarship itsself was the mentor that came with it, whose advice helped me prepare and succeed in college.
I began studying at the University of Florida, five weeks after graduating from high school. Within three weeks of arriving at college I had begun working as an information technology assistant at another college on campus. The duality of designing and being involved in IT shaped the remainder of my education all the way through graduate school, as it allowed me to merge my passion for design and my interest in technology. Halfway though undergrad I took on the responsibility of Materials Lab Teaching Assistant, largely due to the experience and skills I obtained from my former construction and industrial jobs. I continued to work both positions throughout the remainder of college, integrating them into my studio design work as frequently as possible. I graduated from the University of Florida with highest honors and a few credits shy of a second degree in sociology, another field that highly interests me.
Without hesitation, I began graduate school at the Southern California Institute of Architecture. There I was able to take my interest in technology and fabrication and truly start merging them together in the design studio. Simultaneously, while attending SciArc I began working for Akamai Technologies, which is a global telecommunications corporation. Once again, I found myself in a position where I was living a dual life as designer and IT technician. Throughout graduate school I maintained my position with Akamai, often incorporating themes of communication and digital infrastructure into my design work. Though I do not necessarily agree with all the rhetoric of SciArc, having experienced such a broad design perspective between the institutions I attended has given me the opportunity to reflect upon and build my own aesthetic ideology, further than I would have been able to by attending like minded institutions.
Now that I have attained my masters’ degree in architecture and have completed the academic portion of my education I am determined to expand my knowledge of architectural design though working within the profession of architecture. I also will continue to search out the potential benefits that can be gained from merging computing technology into architecture and design. I hope that my design and technological skills and experience will allow me the opportunity to continue pursuing creative and innovative design.