Featured Member: R. Linda Camacho, Intl. Assoc. AIA

An associate at Kirksey Architecture in Houston, Linda Camacho is a role model for young design professionals in her community.

www.kirksey.com

A licensed architect in Mexico and associate at Kirksey Architecture, Linda Camacho has been practicing for 20 years. As the founding chair of the AIA Houston Latinos in Architecture Committee, she seeks to connect her culture with the architecture community and support rising Latino architects.

I am a first-generation native Houstonian. I spoke Spanish at home growing up and took Spanish composition classes in high school to become proficient. This paid off when I decided to pursue an architecture degree at Universidad de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico. My degree states “Arquitecto,” the masculine word for architect. I discovered that architecture was seen as a career for men, and that is something I had to deal with in college and early in my career.

Because of that, I work hard. I do not want to give anyone the impression that I cannot do the work because I am a female and Hispanic. I try to be a positive role model for up and coming Latino women architects. I share with them what my struggles have been and offer advice to help them overcome and avoid similar situations. Having been educated and registered in Mexico, it is important for me to become a licensed architect in the US, even though it has taken me a long time. It is never too late. Becoming registered here is something I have been working towards and I encourage my young peers to do the same. My advice to them is to complete the ARE as soon as possible before increasing responsibilities interfere with that goal. I also advocate for young professionals to find a mentor—someone they can trust and who can guide them on their career path and help them achieve their goals.

Learn more about AIA's committment to broadening equity, diversity, and inclusion in architecture.

My enthusiasm to give a lending hand started nine years ago when I joined the Houston Hispanic Architects and Engineers, HHAE. Years after joining HHAE, I collaborated with architects Cesar Dominguez, AIA, Ricardo Martinez, AIA, and Bayardo Selva, AIA to form AIA Houston’s Latinos in Architecture committee (LiA Houston). Our goal is to bring about awareness of Latin American culture through events and presentations. We aim broader than just discussing architecture. We want to teach everyone about our Latin American roots, not only through architecture but also through art, cuisine, music, and language. We accomplish so much in our lives and careers that we want to share our knowledge with those just starting. We can help them figure out what they would like to do, regardless of whether or not they want to pursue a career in architecture.

Latin Americans constitute approximately 18% of the US population and are the largest ethnic minority. Yet, they are overwhelmingly underrepresented in the architectural and engineering profession. While the student population in architecture schools is somewhat in proportion with the overall US population, an achievement gap persists. Only a very small percentage of registered architects are Latinos. As a role model and through my engagement with LiA, I hope that through outreach, more doors will open for Latinos to pursue a successful career in architecture or whatever career path they want to follow. Minimizing disparities and increasing representation of Latinos would also help to improve relationships between the construction, architecture, and engineering fields.

Our nation has always been a country of immigrants and great diversity, which I believe is its greatest strength. Everyone has something to offer and the potential to contribute to making this country a great place to live. We need to learn to work and live together, irrespective of career or background.

As architects, we all are passionate about something and we all care for our cities. Just like we enjoy learning about the architecture that surrounds us, we should do more to learn about the people that surround us, too.  -As told to Kathleen M. O’Donnell

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Image credits

Camacho

Kirksey

Tallowood Baptist Church and Educ bldg

Kirksey

SFA Freshman Residence Hall

Kirksey

QueensburyTheatre

Kirksey