I love baking, especially baking pastries, even at 12am after a full day at Cornell!
Program and Degree:
Master of Landscape Architecture
Class of 2019
What were you doing prior to the MLA degree program?
Before starting my MLA at Cornell I earned my Bachelor of Urban Design and Landscape Architecture at Bilkent University in Turkey. I worked at a couple of internships during my bachelor's then decided to pursue a master’s degree.
What were the biggest obstacles you had to overcome in order to participate in the program?
For me, one of the biggest obstacles was developing a portfolio to gain acceptance into the program. Then the move to Ithaca became my next challenge.
Why did you choose to pursue a CALS MLA degree?
When I did a Google search of landscape architecture, Cornell CALS program was in the Top 5 and I liked what I read about the program. My goal was to gain experience and learn more in residential and public work design firms and use my studies in real world projects.
What are the strengths of the CALS MLA degree program, in your opinion?
One of the most important strengths of this program is getting to know the professionals and alumni invited to campus. Another appealing strength is that the program offers a variety of landscape architecture topics, like horticulture, ecology and technical sections.
What have been some of your most rewarding moments while in your program?
Students have the option to do “Design Connect” which is a non-profit, student organization. Design Connect focuses on involvement with communities in Upstate New York. As a team member and project manager of two projects with Design Connect, I had one of my most rewarding moments when I made meaningful connections with community members, working on projects that truly helped improve their lifestyle and environment.
What are your short term and long term career goals?
As a short term goal, I want to gain as much experience as I can in this field and be a licensed Landscape Architect. I am currently doing a really involved internship in New York. As a long term goal, I am planning to open my own design firm.
What courses stand out as most helpful for your specific career goals?
The technical courses were the most helpful. Site Engineering is all about grading and one of the most important parts of our job. Site Assembly explains how we should do construction documents and I learned a lot in that course. Studio is valuable and where we focus on real-world design problems.
What advice would you give to your younger self embarking on the journey of graduate school?
To be prepared for a few years of working hard and paying extra attention to the technical classes. Take notes on everything, because all of it is going to pay off! Also, the way that you present yourself and your work is as important as the quality of your work.
How has your MLA experience changed you, both personally and professionally?
Personally, this master’s program expanded my perspective and understanding. I always knew about global warming and sea level rise but here, I got to actually work on it directly. That experience showed me how important and urgent the problem really is. Professionally, I enhanced my technical and design work notably.
What advice would you give an undergraduate student who is preparing to jump right into the MLA program?
The best thing to do before getting into this program is to learn the basics of Adobe and 3D programs. All of us will learn those during the classes but when we know them before, it can saves you a lot of time and struggle.
What do you like most about studio time?
Studio is like a second (sometimes first!) home and your friends in the studio become your family. The best part is we work together and help each other when we are there.
What student organizations are you involved in?
I am involved in Design Connect, Design Teach and American Society of Landscape Architects - Student Chapter which are all related to the department. I am also in the Iranian and Turkish student organizations. These can give you the opportunity to make changes or improve things and that gives you the best feeling.
How have the faculty supported your educational goals?
Specifically, my advisor supported me in my problems and helped me improve my weak points by spending extra time providing feedback and guidance on the things I asked for help with.