Francis Ikhalea – Morgan State University
I am Francis Ikhalea. I am a sophomore attending The School of Architecture and Planning at Morgan State University. I have plans of completing my bachelors, as well as a master’s degree. I also plan on becoming a registered licensed architect. I developed a keen interest in architecture because of its ability to stimulate cognitive skills. Furthermore I enjoy the unique nature of creativity; as no two designs are ever the same, either simple or complex. My interest is honed by my hobbies, which I consider an extension of my creative abilities. These hobbies include dancing, drawing, and photography. They inspire my innovative side, and I attribute their inspirations to my design. Before my admission to Morgan State University, I attended and graduated from Umbrella Comprehensive High School in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. From there, I was admitted into The College of Engineering and Technology, at Olabisi Onabanjo University. In 2011, I had to leave Nigeria, with my family, for the United States. Although I left my studies and friends behind, I considered it an opportunity in many ways to broaden my horizons.
Jose Ibarra – Cornell University
I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, moved to Miami, FL in July of 2009, and am currently looking for educational opportunities for a brighter future. I recently graduated from Miami Dade College, where I held a 4.0 GPA, was part of the Dean’s List consecutively, and was the recipient of the 2012-2013 MDC Outstanding Student of the Year in Architecture Award. Aside from my passion for architectural design, art, and drawing, I represent Mobilize.org as their Community Coordinator. They are a non-profit organization focused on investing on Millennial-led community projects. While working as Community Coordinator at Mobilize.org I was recently honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award for community engagement and service. I will transfer to Cornell University during the fall 2013 for my 5-year Professional Bachelor’s degree. At Cornell I plan on joining the DesignConnect organization, the Cornell University Sustainable Design (CUSD) team, and participating in the Cornell Architecture, Art and Planning publication, Association. My interest and passion for architectural design, education, and culture shows my commitment to building a community of strong, well-rounded leaders.
Esther Ju Eun Jeong – Virginia Tech
I grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia for most of my life, then moved to Mclean, Virginia and finished the last two years at Langley High School. Currently, I am going into my second year at Virginia Tech, where I am majoring in Architecture and minoring in both Industrial Design and Leadership and Social Change. Since sixth grade, I had always dreamed of studying architecture at Virginia Tech. The intricate and yet simplistic art of design has always intrigued me. I adore expanding my understanding of design every day I spend in studio. I aspire to use to my degree to serve others in a way that I can share my experience with design. I want to expose the complex beauty of design to others, whether that is through teaching in developing countries to students who are hungry for a creative outlet, or working towards designing sustainable and resilient homes for third world countries. During the summer after my first year, I spent one month in an art internship in Africa, exchanging cultural backgrounds through art with native college students; which was a splendid eye-opening experience. In my spare time, I love sketching, exploring the world of fashion, crafting home décor, and most of all, spending time with my friends.
Michael Keith Larche’ II – Tuskegee University
My name is Michael Keith Larche' II, and I am a rising sophomore in architecture program at Tuskegee University. I live with my mother, father, and two younger brothers. I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana before Hurricane Katrina caused us to relocate, and I now live in Lithonia, Georgia. I chose architecture as my major because I have always dreamed of going back to New Orleans and living there again in a house that I will have designed and built. I want to be able to go back and help rebuild and possibly help prevent extreme damage like that from happening again. I want to prevent the devastating consequences to not only the city of New Orleans, but others that have been affected by storms like Katrina. Other than my passion for architecture, I love to sing. I guess you could consider it a hobby, but it is a huge part of my life for me. You can always catch me singing. I grew up singing inspirational songs from Christian albums, and then, I started singing anything that came to mind. I sing my thoughts, feelings, and I even sing just to add a little fun to my day. Music is my outlet. I think that's why I am able to focus on my greater goals in life. I don't like to hold in feelings and often sing them out. I will continue to use my hobby throughout architecture career because it's only going to naturally get more difficult. God-willing, I will one day I earn my PhD in architecture, and from then on, I will continue to fulfill my dreams.
Rachel Clapper – Carnegie Mellon University
My name is Rachel Clapper and, despite my last name, I am one hundred percent Korean. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, and will be staying here for another five years attending Carnegie Mellon University. I am pursuing a degree in Architecture and a minor in Math. At Fox Chapel Area High School I was a member of Jewelry Club and the National Art Honor Society, where I participated in an architecture apprenticeship. In my free time, I like to bead jewelry, build models, listen to music, and spend time with my family. Becoming an architect has always been my dream ever since I was a toddler, and in the future, I hope to establish my own firm designing modern, aesthetic and affordable homes for needy families around the world.
Shelby Gonzales – University of Texas at San Antonio
I was born in Galveston, Texas on September 23, 1994. I lived in Galveston until 2008, when Hurricane Ike hit. It was devastating on my family; we lost our home and our memories. We moved to Texas City a couple months later. Texas City opened many opportunities for me, and I became a member of the Computer and Drafting Club. My senior year we designed ranch styles homes for the SkillsUSA Drafting competition using AutoCAD and creating models. At district I came in second place and received a superior rating. In the time between district and state I made many improvements on my drawings and models. At state I scored even higher than I did at district. In the fall I will attend the University of Texas in San Antonio, where I hope to have my master’s degree in five years. I am very excited to further my education and I feel blessed for all the opportunities that I have receive.
Wendy Hurtado – University of Texas at Arlington
My name is Wendy Hurtado, mother of an amazing boy, Jesus. I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas where I graduated with high honors from Skyline High School in May 2012. I am currently attending the School of Architecture at the University of Texas in Arlington, where I am also in the honors college. Since I was a little girl, I have always enjoyed drawing and building different things. I knew for a fact that I wanted my career to involve drawing, designing, and building models. I spend as much time as possible with my four year old boy, and cherish those moments. My ultimate goal is to become a licensed architect and have a brighter future for my son, whom is my motivation for success.
Whitney Malone – Syracuse University
Hello! My name is Whitney Malone and I am from Cohasset, Massachusetts. I went to Cohasset High School, where I played field hockey for four years and was the team captain my senior year. I was also a member of the National Honor Society as well as the high school Concert and Pep Bands, as I have been playing the flute since the fourth grade. I have always held a passion for the Arts, specifically in drawing and design, as well as Mathematics. All of these passions have naturally guided me toward Architecture as a college major and career. After taking an environmental science class in high school and attending an ecology trip to Costa Rica last spring, I found a new interest in environmental sustainability. This fall, I am attending Syracuse University’s School of Architecture, where I plan to earn my bachelor’s degree in their five-year architecture program. After college, I hope to work in the field of architecture, designing academic and residential buildings, while also contributing to the development of environmentally friendly buildings and landscapes.