Architecture Personal Statement
I am passionate about art and helping people. I am pursuing architecture as a profession because I see it as a career path where the two meet. Alvar Aalto said, “Building art is a synthesis of life in materialised form. We should try to bring in under the same hat not a splintered way of thinking, but all in harmony together.” The desire to make the world a better place for people to live in has been the greatest influence in my pursuit of architecture as a profession.
Compassion has helped in my pursuit of architecture. Last semester I was put on the Dean’s List for earning a grade point average over 3.50 with 18 units, but my grades haven’t always been good. When I started architecture classes at El Camino, working to make a living was the highest priority. Neither of my parents earned a college degree. It was important for me to learn a trade and support myself. I worked restaurant jobs and eventually became a server at an upscale restaurant.
I earned enough money to pay for rent, groceries and other living expenses, but I struggled to balance my education with work. My grades were low and I dropped several classes, but I was still interested in learning. I absolutely loved the architecture classes. I took pride in my work, but I kept to myself in the campus studio. Advanced students came to me and mentored me. Without me asking for it, they kept coming back. Eventually they helped me to feel at home in the studio, and I felt comfortable as an architecture student. That made all the difference in my educational progress. The character and determination I built from working restaurant jobs to pay for rent and food could be focused comfortably on my dream of architecture. I have since committed myself to helping other students in the architecture studio succeed.
I volunteer to help when I can. Outside of school I volunteer with The Sunshine Kids non-profit organization, which provides positive group activities and emotional support for young cancer patients. I participate in Sunshine Kids events and help kids receiving cancer treatment have a good time. At El Camino this has gone beyond helping classmates with homework. I have found or made opportunities to help people in other ways. I served a year as president of El Camino College’s Architecture Club, and I used my leadership to create programs and activities that take the interest of over one hundred fellow students beyond the classroom.
I led El Camino College’s Design Village teams in 2011. Going into the competition no team member had participated in Design Village or any extracurricular design/build competition like it. Our goal was to see our structures, a design we create just like in class, become a livable structure on a windy hillside in San Luis Obispo. We felt this was a valuable experience to our education as architecture students, but the school did not sponsor the teams and instructors were not able to oversee our operations. The project was a challenge with several risks. We needed to collaborate among ourselves to research a comfortable structure design that could be built on a very small budget, and we needed to be confident that it would not tumble down a hill, blow away in the wind, get washed away with rain, or fail us in any other way. It was a challenge we enjoyed. I met with local businesses to acquire building materials as donations, local architects to review the design, and a local engineer to check the design for its structural integrity. We invested weeks into the idea of seeing our design become a real structure. Every member sacrificed their entire spring break to build the structures and participate at the Design Village event, and because of all the hard work that went into the structures, sleeping in the structures didn’t seem like a risk.
I organized a group art show that allowed everyone in the architecture club the opportunity to display artwork in a professional gallery for one night. I wanted fellow architecture students at El Camino to feel good embracing their creative interests, and I wanted art goers to notice that community college students are capable of more than just computer aided drafting – that there are in fact great minds at El Camino. I collaborated with professional artists, local musicians, poets, promoters, and a newspaper to put the event together. I initially funded all the costs of the event with my money. I collected artwork and hung all the pieces in the gallery. I found club members who took pride in their cooking and offered to bring in homemade goods. Everything on the night of the event was free. Admission was free, the music was free, the refreshments were free, and artwork sales were free of commission. The event gained so much momentum that a man volunteered to print t-shirts for the event. He printed dozens of t-shirts and gave them away at the event for free. All the architecture students that took the risk of showing their artwork were celebrated, and many of them told me they had a great time.
I know my future is in design innovation bringing solutions that improve the local and global environments. My commitment to improving the lifestyles of people within my community, country and the planet was evident to my professors, as I was amongst only four students selected to participate on a paid internship program with the State Chancellor Office of California Community Colleges. The DEEP program is a pilot program that takes a systems approach to teaching sustainability within a campus setting using buildings as pedagogical tools for learning about topics like energy efficiency, waste, transportation. I am working alongside professors and the boards of student clubs to integrate and infuse sustainability into existing classes, researching topics for new curricula. DEEP programs will provide me with an opportunity to earn the United States Green Building Council – Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design LEED Green Associate certification. I am also writing a monthly newsletter to inspire the entire campus community to think critically about environmental issues.
California College of the Art’s values align perfectly with my personal values. I want to do well, and I want to be among the best. I want to go to CCA because CCA students do amazing work and because I believe the college’s values create the perfect environment for students to help each other succeed. I see a connection between the work students do and the environment created by the college’s value, and I feel offering wisdom gained through my experiences could contribute to the creative greatness at CCA.