I love chocolate but hate chocolate flavored things
Program and Degree:
Master of Landscape Architecture
Class of 2019
What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome in order to participate in the program?
Choosing to continue my education was a major obstacle financially and emotionally. Ultimately, weighing the pros and cons of going through the MLA program allowed me to see the benefits of investing in myself and my future; and now I am so happy I made the decision to get my Master’s degree!
Why did you choose to pursue a CALS MLA degree?
Cornell is one of the few schools in NYS that has an accredited landscape architecture program. I always knew I wanted to be in landscape architecture and Cornell has a great reputation and an alumni community that provides great networking opportunities for my future.
What are your post-MLA plans?
I will be working for Stantec in NYC which is an international multidisciplinary design and consulting firm. I interned for the NY office during the AAP NYC semester and worked hard to earn a job offer after graduation! I am really excited. I think that my drive and thoughtfulness was key to my internship transforming into a full-time job.
What are the strengths of the CALS MLA degree program, in your opinion?
During my time here I have really developed a strong sense of family and support within my cohort and my department. I attribute my successful experience here to my involvement with the department and one-on-one advising opportunities offered in a small-size program. I was able to maximize my relationships and build support groups in and out of studio which really helped with the stress of grad school overall.
What have been some of your most rewarding moments while in your program?
My most rewarding moments were winning the Dreer Award for my research in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Thanks to departmental support, I secured internship opportunities abroad in France and the Caribbean which were incredibly valuable. Also, a rewarding moment was being recognized for my leadership in the department by receiving a nomination for the Landscape Architecture Foundation Olmsted Scholars Program.
What are your short term and long term career goals?
My short-term career goal is to work in professional practice and become licensed in NY State. My long-term goal is to build my own firm focused in working with international underserved communities and populations of color.
What courses stand out as most helpful for your specific career goals?
All of the courses I took with Professor Valerie Aymer were the most beneficial/helpful to my development as a designer in Landscape Architecture. Her courses in CAD, Site Engineering, Professional Practice and Studio still hold strong in my practical techniques used today. She is a genius, and I appreciate all the practical knowledge and advice she has taught me over the past three years.
What advice would you give to your younger self embarking on the journey of graduate school?
Take the time to figure out what YOU want and advocate for yourself in your education! You are here to get the most out of the program for your own professional development. So test those weird ideas, explore different mediums, and trust your gut.
How has your MLA experience changed you, both personally and professionally?
Personally, I have come into my strengths as a leader and facilitator, and navigated how that influences my creative ability in design projects. Professionally, I discovered a strong sense of my role in the field and acknowledge that my future may not always include design, but can foster opportunities in research, management, and development; and that is okay! Landscape Architecture offers so many avenues beyond design work and I am excited to also explore those paths professionally.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Ithaca?
The Farmers Market, of course! How could you not love the energy in all that wholesome food and community? The sunsets, especially from the studio balcony over Bailey Plaza, are unforgettable.
What student organizations are you involved in?
During my time here, I tried my best to be involved inside and outside the department. I was on the board of the Black Graduate & Professional Student Association as the Secretary and Community Service chair where we held monthly General Body Meetings and provided a network that addresses the needs and concerns of underrepresented graduate and professional students at Cornell University. I was on the TRACE production team for the first publication within the department and documented studio culture and work. I also served on the board of the American Society for Landscape Architects student chapter in the department for two years as the Events Coordinator and Professional Liaison.
What do you like about being involved in student organizations?
I love creating spaces for people to engage and interact with one another outside of their everyday courses. Even though organizations may be centered on professional fields, I enjoy the casual atmosphere and sense of community organizations can provide.
How have the faculty supported your educational goals?
The faculty have always made time to advise and guide me in the right direction. I never felt that I was restricted to my assigned advisor for guidance. It was really nice to be able to seek guidance from the most fitting staff in order to get very sound and helpful advice.