Young Alumni Spotlight — Laura Royer Architecture, Construction Management Minor ‘13

Tell me about yourself. Describe your professional background.

Upon graduating from Philadelphia University’s Bachelors of Architecture program I moved to Baltimore, MD to work for Marks, Thomas Architects.  I have been with the firm for the past three years.  We specialize in multi-family housing, senior housing, as well as other commercial work such as schools and offices.  We have an in house interior design department and marketing department, which allows us to offer a more comprehensive design.  While at the firm I have been able to complete my IDP hours.  I am currently pursuing my license and have completed over half the ARE exams.  My goal is to be licensed by the Fall of 2016.  I have also been tasked with creating Revit standards within the office and teaching fellow employees how to use the program.

Why did you choose Philadelphia University for your college education?

I chose Philadelphia University because I valued the small classes, the number of professors still active in the field of architecture, and that construction management was also offered, which later became my minor.  The education offered also appeared to be a good balance of practical and theoretical.  Growing up in the country, I was eager to move to the city and experience the culture and amenities only the city could offer.

Why and how did you choose your career path?

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be an architect.  The whole profession intrigued me and I loved the idea of “creating” something that would ultimately become a place others would inhabit.  My father works in construction, therefore I was exposed to the profession while growing up.  My personality tends to be very practical and black/white, however I too have a very creative side.  I knew that going into construction or engineering would not satisfy my creative side, therefore architecture seemed to be the most appropriate avenue to pursue.

For you, what was the most valuable part of your PhilaU education?  Did your PhilaU education influence your career path?

The most valuable part of my education at PhilaU was the balance of studio, which tends to be very theoretical to the practicality of our computer drafting courses and building technology classes.  I valued a comprehensive education, which would later benefit me greatly when applying for full time positions out of school.  Pairing my major with a minor in construction management allowed me to stand out among others applying for the same position.  I was able to secure a job a few months prior to graduating.  The more you diversify your knowledge and experience the more valuable you become to employers.

Tell me about any challenges you’ve faced in your career and how you overcame them.

Thankfully I have not experienced many challenges so far.  I have been lucky to have project managers who have trusted me with a variety of responsibilities, which has also benefited me in completing my IDP hours quicker.  The best way to approach any issues is to advocate for yourself and continue pushing yourself to grow personally and professionally.  IDP can be a great way to approach your employer for experience in other areas if you feel you are getting trapped in a certain role or position.

Tell me about the most rewarding/interesting part of your career.

My firm works on a lot of multi-family affordable housing projects within Baltimore.  It is very rewarding to know that the buildings I am designing what will become some peoples first “home”.  Those who don’t have the means to support themselves will be given the opportunity to live in a beautiful new and safe apartment building.  We have designed projects for homeless, veterans, mothers who are re-uniting with their children after overcoming drug abuse, elderly, and those who have not yet been able to increase their income to afford market rate housing.

While at Philadelphia University I helped to co-found the Habitat for Humanity group on campus.  Upon graduating I wanted to make sure that I continued to participate and get others involved as well.  I arranged for my firm to participate in three separate builds so far, and hope to continue serving our city.

What are the guiding principles that you feel have helped you succeed in your career?

I believe we never stop learning, therefore I ask a lot of questions and never turn down an opportunity to try something new.  I never want to become complacent which has lead me to lead a very goal oriented lifestyle.  I continue to push myself personally and professionally, which in turn has truly benefited me in my career so far.  I have been able to receive recognition I never would have had I taken a more relaxed approach.

Tell me a little about your life outside of work.  How do you balance work and life?

It is extremely important to have a healthy work life balance.  I am active in a local church, play in an adult field hockey league, take as many barre and yoga classes as I can, and am currently studying for the ARE’s.

If you could pass along a lesson to current PhilaU students and recent grads, what would it be?

Try to diversify your knowledge as best as possible and don’t be afraid to try something new!

Young Alumni Spotlight — Heather Robinson, Interior Design ’14

Tell me about yourself. Describe your professional background.

I attended college at Philadelphia University where I was heavily involved in the interior design school and school organizations. After the summer of my third year, I interned with Meyer Design. Through this internship, I was able to enhance my skills in construction documentation and client preparation. In the spring of 2014, I graduated with a degree in Interior Design and started my job at Gensler as an Interior Designer. For the past year and a half, I have had the opportunity to work on various landmark projects in Philadelphia.

Why did you choose Philadelphia University for your college education?

I chose Philadelphia University due to my family ties. My role model and cousin, Jason Christiansen (Architecture ’01) went to Philadelphia University, which is what first brought it to my attention. I watched Jason succeed in the architecture program and afterwards go on to be a founder of his own company. He also married a Philadelphia University alumna of the Interior Design program. I also became interested in Interior design industry because my aunt works for Knoll.

For you, what was the most valuable part of your PhilaU education?  Did your PhilaU education influence your career path?

The most valuable part of my PhilaU education was the strong culture of collaboration and community service.  They put a strong emphasis on this and it drives all programs within the university. I was able to get involved with the community through becoming active in Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia Campus Chapter, where I eventually became President. As well, my passion for community service extended to helping others in Panama on a Global Medical Brigades trip. The school also challenged us to participate in industry design competitions such as the IIDA student competition, for which I received first place. Also, I participated in collaborative projects like the ACSA/AISC Steel Competition and Comcast Home of Future.

Tell me about any special recognition that you have received and any organizations or networks that you are involved with.

I was a part of Philadelphia’s annual festival Design Philadelphia this past fall. This year’s theme SHIFT, was inspired by the transformations across Philly and how these “changes have the power to SHIFT perceptions.” As part the festival, Gensler served on one of ten teams that created temporary installations along Philly’s Pearl Street Passage. I worked with a team of Gensler colleagues, residential developer Postgreen Homes/Hybrid Construction, artist and fashion designer Serena Saunders, and Philadelphia University architecture student Richard Vilabrera Jr. The installation was made up of mirrored cubes and encouraged viewers to snap a selfie in its reflective surface. As the viewers move past their work, they will see their image reflected, disrupted and merged, which ultimately encourages them to look past their phone’s camera lens. This was a great opportunity to work with a vast team of artists, designers and a fabricator to create something beautiful and meaningful in the community. You can read more about Selfless in the Philly Voice article here: http://www.phillyvoice.com/pearl-st-passage/.
(Pearl Street photos by Alex Khlor ’16)

While I was a student I participated in industry design competitions and won top prizes:

2014 IIDA Student Design Competition, 1st Place Winner

2014 IIDA Student Design Competition, 1st Place Winner

2013 Jacobs KlingStubbins Student Design Competition, 2nd Place Winner

2013 Jacobs KlingStubbins Student Design Competition, 2nd Place Winner

Tell me about any challenges you’ve faced in your career and how you overcame them.

A challenge for me was knowing what type of design I wanted to go into. I decided to find a firm where I could have different opportunities to work on diverse areas of design. Gensler is that firm as it gives me the opportunity to be a part of all of the practice areas and focus on design synergy. I have worked on projects in all verticals including everything from master planning to commercial design. Working on a variety of different projects and design styles has helped bring more confidence in who I am as a designer. It also has helped me learn some great new skills that I can use throughout my career.

Tell me about the most rewarding/interesting part of your career.  

One of the reasons why I like working at Gensler so much is that it has those similar values that I was a part of throughout my college experience. PhilaU and Gensler both believe in giving back to their community. As well, I enjoy being a part of Gensler as it has a firm wide initiative called gServe which enables coworkers to work together on outreach activities and community service. gServe’s goal is to ultimately help create a bigger impact on the communities in which we live work and play.

Another rewarding aspect of working at Gensler’s Philadelphia office is working with fellow alumni and current students: Laura Beaver (Interior Design ’12), Christian Bushong (Architecture ’02), Sean Carlin (Architecture ’15), Alex Klohr (Architecture ’16), Linda Pileggi (Interior Design ’02) and Jennifer Nye (Interior Design ‘97).  Having the community and support of PhilaU alumni as colleagues has definitely made the transition from student to professional easier.

What are the guiding principles that you feel have helped you succeed in your career?

Through my work as a designer I strive to create a better world to live, work and play.  Also, I believe that design can inspire and positively impact the way people live in and experience the world.

Tell me a little about your life outside of work.  How do you balance work and life?

In my spare time, I like to enjoy everything Philadelphia has to offer in arts and culture. In my spare time, I like to do things related to the design industry, like mentoring for SPARK and ACE. Their programs provide me an opportunity to work with middle and high school students to help them foster a love for design, construction and engineering. I know I am in the right field as I enjoy doing things that further my own career as well as learning and sharing with others within the industry.

If you could pass along a lesson to current PhilaU students and recent grads, what would it be?

Brand yourself!  Armed with a great education, get active in your community and let your personality shine through. Philadelphia is full of design, so take advantage of all the opportunities within your community. Use your professors as a resource – they are incredibly knowledgeable and connected within the Philadelphia industry.

Young Alumni Spotlight — Chris Witman, Architectural Studies ‘13

Tell me about yourself. Describe your professional background.

In January I moved to Richmond, Virginia to start my first job out of school.  Originally from south central PA, I graduated from PhilaU in 2013 majoring in Architectural Studies.  During my time in Philly I spent a summer interning with the Independence Seaport Museum.  Soon after graduation I moved to Vermont to start grad school at The University of Vermont.  In December I was fortunate to graduate from there with a Masters in Historic Preservation.  My time at PhilaU showed me that this was the direction that I wanted to follow.  After learning more about this broad field, I decided that I wanted to focus on the technical side of preservation.  My interest is in how to maintain, restore, and conserve historic building materials.  This focus led to an internship with the New York Citywide Monuments Conservation Program while I was still in grad school.  I currently am an apprentice at Centennial Preservation Group out of Ohio.  The company deals with the restoration, and preservation of various building materials.

Why did you choose Philadelphia University for your college education?

I chose Philadelphia University because of their architecture program.  The campus was also much more appealing than the other choices I had.

Why and how did you choose your career path?

My interest and career in the field of historic preservation started when I didn’t get into the five year architecture program.  I was accepted into the architectural studies program and soon realized that architecture wasn’t the path I wanted to go into.  The concentration in historic preservation was a gamble that managed to pay off.  The classes at PhilaU influenced me to then get my Masters in the subject.

For you, what was the most valuable part of your PhilaU education?  Did your PhilaU education influence your career path?

My education at PhilaU definitely influenced my career path.  The most valuable part of the education would be the help and support given by not only the teachers but also the advisors.  The classes for a Masters in Historic Preservation is on a much higher level than the classes that we went through at PhilaU.  That said, the education during undergrad made the transition less stressful.

Tell me about any special recognition that you have received and any organizations or networks that you are involved with.

I’m a member of The Association for Preservation Technology International and participate in one of the committees that are open to all members.

Tell me about any challenges you’ve faced in your career and how you overcame them.

The field of historic preservation is extremely broad where graduates can pick many directions to follow.  My interest is in learning the hands-on technical side of building material restoration and conservation.  This is a topic that I feel complements my education but wasn’t really taught on an academic level.  This might not be the case in other grad programs but at UVM we primarily read and discussed treatment options.  My main challenge was finding a way to get hands on field experience.  This is why I chose to start as an apprentice with the company I work for now.  I believe the knowledge I’m getting will be beneficial in the future, and along with my degree, create a well-rounded understanding of this topic.

Tell me about the most rewarding/interesting part of your career.

The most rewarding aspect of my career path would be the buildings and works of art that I get to see and work on.  Last summer I conducted an internship in New York City where I was given the chance to help clean and maintain monuments around the city.  Monuments sculpted by individuals like Daniel Chester French and Augustus Saint-Gaudens were just some of the work that three other interns and I worked on.  Even though the work was somewhat basic, it was still a pleasure to be able to touch these pieces and help maintain them for the future. 

The company I’m working for right now is restoring and adapting steel windows from a 1930s Art Deco tall building in the heart of Richmond which was formerly a bank.  The windows are an important character defining feature to the building, if replaced the building would lose some of its integrity.  The building is also going to include apartments and retail that will help to revitalize downtown Richmond.  The company is also doing extensive work on The University of Virginia’s Rotunda designed by Thomas Jefferson.

What are the guiding principles that you feel have helped you succeed in your career?

I wouldn’t say I have succeeded in my career just yet.  That said, my fundamental guiding principle that I believe helps me is the idea that I’m never done learning.  That’s why I took the job I did after graduating from grad school.  It’s a topic I want to know so I’m going to learn it.

Tell me a little about your life outside of work.  How do you balance work and life?

Most of my time is spent visiting historic sites around Richmond and Virginia.  I’m sure anyone who took Architectural History can relate when I say I need to see the buildings that were on the slide shows.  So there is a lot of traveling to see significant examples of historic and modern architecture.  My work is my passion; it’s hard to separate sometimes but I’m working on it.

If you could pass along a lesson to current PhilaU students and recent grads, what would it be?

I thought I wanted to be an architect and was going to apply for the program after my second year.  I chose not to when I learned about the concentration in historic preservation.  I would simply say keep an open mind and assess all your options.

Young Alumni Spotlight — Kristi Gaudio, Industrial Design ‘13

Tell me about yourself. Describe your professional background.

I am an Industrial Design graduate of the class of 2013. I started working for Marchon Eyewear, a division of VSP Global one week after graduation as an eyewear design intern. Now, I work in the VSP Global innovation lab, The Shop, focusing on wearable technology and alternative manufacturing. We have done projects with Google Glass and Diane Von Furstenberg, and are now working on developing our own wearable technology, called Project Genesis, with more of a fashionable aesthetic and beneficial functionality.

Why did you choose Philadelphia University for your college education?

I had been looking at a bunch of colleges for either engineering or graphic design when one of my high school teachers told me about Industrial Design and specifically PhilaU! It was exactly what I was looking for, but never knew that it even existed.

Out of all the schools that I looked at, PhilaU was by far the one that felt most like some place I could call home. The campus was welcoming and the studio was lively. The industrial design program leaned toward the engineering mindset and designing for manufacturing. Since I had almost gone the engineering route to begin with, this was a bonus for me. It’s been 6 years since I’ve made that decision, and I would still make the same one today.

Why and how did you choose your career path?

Senior year, I went to Design Expo and networked like crazy. There was an employer without anyone interviewing so I decided to introduce myself and find out more about the company that she was representing. A few weeks later, I was interning as a fashion eyewear designer at Marchon working with major brands like Michael Kors, Nike, DVF, and Calvin Klein, among others. After a few months of interning at Marchon, I was moved into the parent company’s innovation lab, The Shop, to work on a special project with Google Glass and Diane Von Furstenberg. And for the past two years, I’ve had the privilege to work on even more cutting-edge innovation projects as an industrial designer.

For you, what was the most valuable part of your PhilaU education?  Did your PhilaU education influence your career path?

The most valuable part of my PhilaU education was the interdisciplinary collaboration. I work with electrical, software, biomedical, and mechanical engineers on a regular basis as well as all sorts of business minded people. PhilaU gave me the ability to navigate those conversations and relationships in a way that helps us understand each other’s intentions and ideas in order to come to the best possible solution.

Tell me about any special recognition that you have received and any organizations or networks that you are involved with.

At such an early stage in my career, one of the most rewarding achievements is simply getting to see my direct work with VSP’s innovation lab getting discussed on national TV and highlighted as a breakthrough in major news outlets like Engadget, MIT Technology Review and Fortune Magazine. 

Tell me about any challenges you’ve faced in your career and how you overcame them.

Working for an innovation lab means lots of ambiguity. There have been times when there is no solid direction coming from higher up, and as designers, we are given so much freedom that we aren’t even sure what to do with it. It can be frustrating, but at the same time, it is usually in those directionless moments when we find what we really want to be working towards. The things that matter to us are the ones that come up when no one is telling us that we have to do it. In situations like this, it is so important to be self-motivated especially because at The Shop we are encouraged to explore new ideas and experiment with things that we believe in.

Tell me about the most rewarding/interesting part of your career.

The best part of my career is seeing the blend of everyone’s abilities to make something none of us could make on our own. Sure, an industrial designer could make a pair of glasses on their own, and we do it all the time with our fashion brands, but it wouldn’t do anything more than correct your vision. To make the kind of impactful object that we are working to create, it takes the hands of a variety of talented people. The rewarding part is being able to learn a little bit from each person.

What are the guiding principles that you feel have helped you succeed in your career?

The guiding principles that helped me succeed are: Don’t be shy. Be curious. Speak up. Keep learning new things. Complacency is deadly.  And of course – “Teamwork makes the dream work.”

Tell me a little about your life outside of work.  How do you balance work and life?

My job can be pretty relaxed, so any extra hours I work are usually only because I am so into what I’m doing that I don’t want to lose momentum. I moved to NYC a year ago and have just been enjoying the experience. I even joined a recreational bowling league with two other PhilaU alumni who live in the city!

If you could pass along a lesson to current PhilaU students and recent grads, what would it be?

Current students: Participate in interdisciplinary projects as if they are the real world. Don’t let one person carry the team – learn from each other.  Communicate and work in a way that is best for the end product, not just for your portfolio. Employers want to see that you can utilize the knowledge and abilities of others to make your visions a reality. 

Recent grads: Don’t let anything discourage you from following through on your dreams. Take risks. Freelance. Intern even if you are 3 years out of college if that’s what it takes to get some experience under your belt. In the long run it will be worth it because you will be doing what you love.

Young Alumni Spotlight — Sarah Schaub, Interior Design ’13

Tell me about yourself. Describe your professional background. 

I graduated from Philadelphia University in the Spring of 2013 with a degree in Interior Design. Right after graduation I moved to Indianapolis and got a job at a corporate commercial interior design firm, Schott Design, where I have been for the past 2 and a half years. During my college career I had 2 summer internships at Balongue Design in Philadelphia, PA.

Why did you choose Philadelphia University for your college education?

I wanted to pursue my passion for interior design through an accredited  design program, which is what first interested me in Philadelphia University.

I am from a small town in Northern Michigan and so honestly, even the thought of going to college in Philadelphia was way outside my comfort zone! But when I visited the school (despite the rainy campus tour!), it just felt like I was meant to spend the next 4 years there.

Why and how did you choose your career path?

I grew up watching home improvement shows on HGTV and interior design was always my dream job. I actually started my college career at a liberal arts school in Indiana, but had never declared a major. Near the end of my freshmen year there, my mom asked me, “If you could do anything, what would you do?” I didn’t need to think long or hard about my answer and I told her, I would be an interior designer. “Then go do it!” is what she said to me. That’s when I discovered Philadelphia University.

For you, what was the most valuable part of your PhilaU education?  Did your PhilaU education influence your career path? 

Philadelphia University didn’t influence my career path; I knew exactly what I wanted to do which is why I sought out PhilaU’s Interior Design Program. It’s so difficult to pinpoint the most valuable part of my education at PhilaU. If I had to pick something, I would say the depth and thoroughness of the Interior Design Program. It’s a well-known and tough program for a reason,  but the depth of knowledge that I gained as a result was incredible! At the end of my 4 years there, I was confident that PhilaU had given me a strong educational foundation and I felt prepared for post-graduation in the industry.

Tell me about any special recognition that you have received and any organizations or networks that you are involved with. 

While I have not received any recognition since graduation, here are things I was involved in while at PhilaU:

Co-president of PhilaU IIDA Campus Center, 2012-2013

2012 Kling Stubbins Competition, 4th Place Winner

2011 Kling Stubbins Competition Winner, 2nd Place

2011 Kling Stubbins Competition, 2nd Place Winner

Team6

2nd Place Team, 2013 IIDA Student Design Competition at NeoCon 2013

2013 Faculty Award for Excellence in Interior Design

2013 Faculty Award for Excellence in Interior Design

Work featured in the 2014 Philadelphia Center for Architecture "Degrees of Design" Exhibition (Feb. 6 - March 14, 2014)

Work featured in the 2014 Philadelphia Center for Architecture “Degrees of Design” exhibition (Feb. 6 – March 14, 2014)

I was selected as First Place winner of the Pfaltzgraff Capstone Seminar Award spring semester of 2012.  Recently, I completed 2 portions of the NCIDQ exam and get my results this winter! Fingers Crossed!

Tell me about any challenges you’ve faced in your career and how you overcame them.

What I have found to be challenging in my career thus far is the coordination and communication required when working on a design job. It is different from college where I was the one making all the design decisions for my projects. In the real world, there are clients, contractors and building owners, to name a few, and it’s your job to listen and coordinate in order to complete a successful design.

Tell me about the most rewarding/interesting part of your career. 

One of the most rewarding parts of my career are the people I interact with everyday. I am blessed to work on a team that embraces collaboration and creativity while encouraging questions which allows me to continually learn and grow.

What are the guiding principles that you feel have helped you succeed in your career? 

Pay attention to the details. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be open to constructive criticism. Seek opportunities to learn and grow.

Tell me a little about your life outside of work.  How do you balance work and life? 

I really enjoy being active after work -whether that’s taking a class at the gym or going for a walk on a local trail. It’s a great opportunity to distance your mind from your work, while doing something healthy for yourself. I also enjoy discovering all the places Indianapolis has to offer! One of my favorite things to do on a nice afternoon is to ride my bike on the Monon trail to a local brewery or restaurant with friends!

If you could pass along a lesson to current PhilaU students and recent grads, what would it be?

Pursue your passion. I almost didn’t and am so fortunate that I was encouraged to do so. Be relentless and intentional in pursuing what makes you happy and savor the journey along the way.

Young Alumni Spotlight — Megan Freeman, Psychology ’13

meganTell me about yourself. Describe your professional background.

I came to PhilaU from Lancaster, PA. I was a psychology major and after I graduated in 2013 I went right into a masters program at Thomas Jefferson University. I spent two years at Jefferson obtaining my Masters of Family Therapy. While studying at Jefferson, I also worked two years clinically, in which I was an outpatient therapist for individuals, couples, and families. I also offered therapy at a number of homeless shelters in the Philadelphia area. I am now working at Philhaven, a mental and behavioral health organization in south central Pennsylvania. I work as a family-based therapist offering intensive outpatient therapy to children and their families to ensure the child’s safety and stability at home, school, and in the community. I am working to become a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Why did you choose Philadelphia University for your college education?

PhilaU offered the close knit and connected learning experience I was interested in. The size of the school and the classes allowed me to feel connected and invested and allowed me to get a personalized education from professors that I really felt knew me and cared about my success. When I toured the university, the professors in the psychology department presented as knowledgeable and down to earth individuals and they held to that belief and more. The campus struck me right away as beautiful and unique and offered many opportunities for involvement that proved to lead to both personal and professional development.

Why and how did you choose your career path?

When I was in elementary school, I struggled with some health issues that lead me to enter counseling. The therapist that worked with me was so incredibly wonderful and helped me so much with my anxieties that from that moment on I knew I wanted to help other kids in a similar way.

For you, what was the most valuable part of your PhilaU education?  Did your PhilaU education influence your career path?

I really valued the education I got at PhilaU, as I loved nearly every psychology course I took, but mostly I loved the professors. They had a huge impact on my career path and helping me to make decisions around how I wanted to best utilize my time and educational experience at PhilaU, and what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go afterward. I think the most valuable part of my education was working to better explore and reflect on myself as a person. We were assigned to explore and better understand our families and ourselves in a way that I had never done before, and I began to learn what an impact our selves and our experiences have on how we interact with others, and what it will be like to interact so closely and intimately with people through some of the most difficult moments of their lives.

Tell me about any special recognition that you have received and any organizations or networks that you are involved with.

While at Philadelphia University, I was a resident assistant for 3 years, chair of the Relay for Life committee, president of the psych society, a peer mentor, and a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters. I was so honored to graduate from Philadelphia University as the valedictorian of the class of 2013. At Jefferson, I graduated with a 4.0 and was inducted into the Alpha Eta Society, an honors society for allied health professionals. 

Tell me about any challenges you’ve faced in your career and how you overcame them.

I encounter challenges every day in the mental health field. There are constantly a million different ways to perceive things, a thousand ways to intervene, and a hundred different directions to go. The ambiguity of this work is one of the hardest and greatest parts about it. I feel like I am constantly challenged, but I overcome that feeling by recognizing that I am also always learning, and to me that is an amazing thing.

Tell me about the most rewarding/interesting part of your career.

In my work as a family-based therapist, I work fairly intensively with families, as I see them 3 times a week for 32 weeks. The relationships that I am able to foster with these families is truly the most rewarding part. I feel so honored that they allow me into their families and humbled that they share with me some of the most challenging moments of their lives.

What are the guiding principles that you feel have helped you succeed in your career?

I work to be non-judgmental, open minded, encouraging, and supportive. It feels important for me to be constantly learning so I can stay competent and skilled in the field. 

Tell me a little about your life outside of work.  How do you balance work and life?

My favorite thing to do when I’m not working is to spend time with my family. When I get some time alone, I like to sit in the shower while drinking hot tea and eating cookies. I like to go camping and take naps and watch chick flicks and sitcoms on Netflix.

If you could pass along a lesson to current PhilaU students and recent grads, what would it be?

My advice is to find something you are passionate about. I just feel like the pieces seem to fall into place when you’re doing something that really means something to you. 

Young Alumni Spotlight – Annelise (Babula) Smith + Jewéll (Richardson) Trapp, Graphic Design Communication ‘13

 

AlumniSpotlight_AnneliseJewell

 

Tell me about yourself. Describe your professional background.

AS:  I am a designer at Bailey Brand Consulting where I began my professional career two years ago. I work on a range of projects including packaging, identity, advertising, and digital campaigns.

JT:  I am coming up on two years as a graphic designer at Bailey Brand Consulting. I do a lot of package design as well as identity and advertising.

Why did you choose Philadelphia University for your college education?

AS:  PhilaU was a great fit for me because of its small size and close proximity to a major city. I grew up in rural NY and was looking for a new environment, but wanted to keep that same sense of community I had at home. The scholarships and aid the university was able to provide was also a huge deciding factor for me.

JT:  I was searching for a school that had an exceptional program, with students and professors who were passionate about their work. I was pleased to find that in PhilaU—and didn’t think their campus was too shabby either.

Why and how did you choose your career path?

AS:  I always loved magazine design as a kid, so I jumped at the opportunity to take an intro class as a freshman in high school. My art teacher recognized my interest and pushed me to take more classes and enter more competitions in the area, which led to my decision to pursue it as a career.

JT:  I had an artistic eye and love for magazine design as a kid, but didn’t realize what graphic design was until I was in high school. When figuring out a path for college, my parents actually encouraged me to explore the field after my initial interest in interior design faded.  After studying at PhilaU, I applied to a ton of different places—I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do but was up for anything. I had (and still have) interests in many areas of design, but when Bailey offered me a job, I took it right away. I interned at Bailey while I was in college so it was exciting to have the opportunity to go back and work with the people I already knew.

For you, what was the most valuable part of your PhilaU education?  Did your PhilaU education influence your career path?

AS:  The most valuable part of my experience at PhilaU was the great connections I made. By being active in our campus AIGA chapter and getting to know my professors, I was able to meet influential designers who later helped me land a job in the field.

JT:  One thing I loved about PhilaU was the size—our program only had about 45 students, which allowed us all to have close connections with our professors and peers. Our professors and advisers really cared about their students and their profession, and it was evident in the way they devoted their time to us.

For me, it made me absolutely love design. Passionate professors are what motivate students. They love what they do, believe in what they do, and push their students to excel at what they do as well.

Tell me about any special recognition that you have received and any organizations or networks that you are involved with.

AS:  Outside of work I am a member of the Philadelphia AIGA chapter and more recently joined Girl Develop It, which is an organization that gives women access to design and coding classes.

JT:  I am a member of AIGA and am currently taking part in the mentorship program. If you’re not a member and are a designer/student, JOIN! There are so many perks to membership—from access to events, to meeting fellow designers.

Tell me about any challenges you’ve faced in your career and how you overcame them.

AS:  I think the hardest challenge of joining the design field is the pace. I am fortunate to work with several other designers who are on the same level, so we lean on each other when we feel overwhelmed or stuck on a design problem.

JT:  Learning how to interact and work with clients has been (and will continue to be) an ever-evolving process for me. It can be difficult to separate work from emotion—especially when clients and designers don’t see eye-to-eye. What often helps me is to remember that our main goal is to help our clients solve problems, and we have to do our best no matter what they throw at us. Although it can play a part in the solution, the focus cannot be about my personal taste. It’s a tricky balance, but I’m constantly learning from past experiences and becoming a better designer everyday.

Tell me about the most rewarding/interesting part of your career.

AS:  The most rewarding aspect of being a designer is solving our clients’ problems. Seeing them react positively to our work is a great feeling.

JT:  Other than seeing my designs on shelf and out in the real world, I really love my team. I am blessed to work at a place where I know every single person by name, and everyone knows me. We have plenty of busy days that can leave us feeling a little weary, but I wouldn’t trade my colleagues for anyone. I also get to work right next to my best friend, Annie, which is definitely the icing on the cake.

What are the guiding principles that you feel have helped you succeed in your career?

AS:  I don’t know that I’ve already been “successful” at this early point in my career, but I believe that staying goal-oriented and challenging yourself is the way to get there.

JT:  Confidence, passion and accepting failure are vital for me. The industry is very fast paced and it can be hard to keep up. I think it’s important for me to stay inspired, stay current, to believe in my work and ability, and to accept that I’m not always going to win. My biggest struggles have equipped me for my biggest victories! I love what I do, I have respect for those who have come before me, and I am excited about where the industry is headed.

Tell me a little about your life outside of work.  How do you balance work and life?

AS:  This year I made a lifestyle change make time before work to exercise, which leaves me feeling more energized to start the day and less stressed if I do end up staying late.

JT:  When I get home from the office, all I want to do is relax and to spend time with my family. Productive days help me keep my work at work and my evenings free for exercise, time with family or just relaxing on the couch. While my job is important, I believe it’s also wise to take time for myself, and I think it makes a big difference in my attitude when I’m able to separate work from everything else.

If you could pass along a lesson to current PhilaU students and recent grads, what would it be?

AS:  My advice for current students is to get involved— college is a unique time when you are surrounded by resources that are designed to help you.

JT:  I’ve recently been learning how much self-doubt hinders me on a regular basis. I get stuck and frustrated and it can be difficult to bounce back. My advice is to get out of your own head and to keep things in perspective. It’s easy to make big deals out of nothing and to beat ourselves up when we are less than perfect. Life doesn’t always go the way we expect—it’s an adventure with a ton of surprises and opportunities. Be willing to try new things!


Extra Tidbit:  Annelise and Jewéll were listed by Graphic Design USA as “Students to Watch” their senior year. Click on the photos below to learn more about these creative ladies!

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A Journey to Sydney – Reflections on Architecture and Travel

A Journey to Sydney – Reflections on Architecture and Travel

My name is Muzalier Gaussaint and I am an aspiring architect, builder and traveling enthusiast.

My interests in international travel + architecture as platforms for cross cultural interactions have led me to spend the last four months in Sydney, Australia working at DesignInc Sydney, an international and multi-disciplinary architecture firm working in transport infrastructure  and healthcare sectors, as well as urban design and interior design.

How did I get started and why?

The road to Sydney started three years ago, as I developed great interest in international travel as a vehicular of cultural awareness. I was fascinated by its potential to develop my knowledge and perception of other cultures,  while becoming acutely aware of my own. Combined with my strong interest in architecture for its capacity to capture the phenomenological aspects of cultures, Sydney now joins the list of other cities including Paris, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Prague, Berlin and Stockholm, whose explorations brought forth the relevance of ‘Intercultural Leadership’ and its vitality in the age of global integration.

Who made it possible and how?

A year ago, as a Fellow Member of the National Society of High School Scholars, I was the winner of the 2014 Australian Internships Scholarship. The latter is a professional organization based in Brisbane, Queensland that partners with many Australian organizations to offer on demand 3-6 months Internship to students from all over the world in their respective fields of study. While the scholarship covered the administrative costs for Australian Internships, the rest of trip was self-funded. After a year of careful financial planning, an intense visa review process, two firm interviews, I embarked on my cultural immersion journey to Australia.

Why Australia?

Australia lied at the intersection between opportunity and curiosity. In Doug Barry’s “Wisdom for a Young CEO”, Henry Golub, CEO of Amex quoted:  “I am curious and interested in just about everything. So, I am always learning and working at the margin of my ignorance.” His statement not only summarizes the spirit through which I approached traveling and architecture, but also inherently embodies the excitement of self awareness which occurs during and post cultural immersion experience.

What were the trade offs?

I made significant trades offs in order for this trip to become a reality. I did not earn an income for 4 months, simply because my internship was unpaid. Also, given my full time employment at the time, I had to take a personal leave for 4 months from Scungio Borst Construction Management with no guarantee of having my position upon my return. In addition, I missed my younger brother’s high school graduation and my best friend’s college graduation. There are opportunity costs to all choices, and those were the ones that I was willing to pay.

and now to the Fun part…

Describe your most memorable day…

Friday April 24, 2015

After toiling for 9 hours on Revit Architecture on a transport project for New South Wales, I caught up with some friends at Coco Cubano for short conversations and cocktails at 6 pm. Then, we proceed to AMC Theaters at Darling Harbour for the “Avengers: Age of Ultron”. Later at about 4 am, we joined a crowd of tens of thousands of Australians at the Anzac Day Service at the Cenotaph at Martin Place, in the city center to honor the Fallen in the Gallipoli War of 1915. Finally, we concluded the evening with a mesmerizing sunrise and breakfast on the steps of the Sydney Opera. In short, I was home by 9 am on Saturday.

What I would recommend if you were in Australia?

- The Bondi-Coogee, a 3 mile Coastal walk

- Spend the day at Manly Beach – Use the ferry

- Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge at night

- Sunrise at Sydney Opera House

- Sunset at La Perouse

- Salsa at The Cuban Place

What is my advice to all Incoming 2015 Freshmen?

Your college education is a journey of Self-Awareness, and will occur in many facets and through many channels: including classrooms, books, peer to peer, friendships, roommates, study abroad (my favorite) & campus organizations. Don’t Fear It. Don’t Rush It. Embrace It.

Want to get in contact?

For a myriad of additional information about my professional work and education at Philadelphia University, you can read it in my previous Young Alumni Spotlight here.

I love coffee and love questions, so feel free to reach out for a Meet and Greet at muzalierg@gmail.com and see my work at www.muzaliergaussaint.com.

Young Alumni Spotlight – Casey Dougan ’15

Tell me about yourself. Describe yCD4our professional background.

My name is Casey Dougan and I graduated from Philadelphia University in May 2015 with a degree in Fashion Merchandising and a minor in International Business. Throughout college I had three internships that contributed significantly to securing my first job. I was a “super intern” as I like to call it (anything, anytime for anyone!) for Henrietta Ludgate in London, England during my semester abroad, a sales coordinator for the Tommy Hilfiger field team during my junior year and a retail-planning intern for Calvin Klein the summer before my senior year of college. These internships along with retail experience at a Tommy Hilfiger company store and my academic record all contributed to landing my first job as a member of the PVH executive training program as a planning trainee. Within this program I work for The Underwear Group, a division of Calvin Klein, in the wholesale planning department for all the men’s underwear brands in PVH’s portfolio including Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger. Additionally, I am a consultant for a global health and wellness company where I am passionate about sharing with others how to get healthier and earn a residual income!

CD2Why did you choose Philadelphia University for your college education?

I chose Philadelphia University for its central location and unique fashion program. I was looking for a small school that offered a good mix of creative and business classes, but also offered programs outside of fashion so I would be able to interact with people outside of my industry. PhilaU offered a good balance of classes and an absolutely perfect location for me- close to Center City, New York, D.C. and only 5 minutes from amazing hiking trails! Add on that our campus in a major city actually had trees and a beautiful mansion…I was sold!

Why and how did you choose your career path?

I first became interested in planning while working retail at the Tommy Hilfiger store. I noticed we were constantly out of stock of one of our best selling items, and I was very frustrated that we were losing sales and couldn’t help our customers! I asked my boss who at corporate was responsible for this and she told me that was due to the planning and allocations department. It was then that I knew I needed to look into this career so I could get my store more stock in those CD5shirts! Since that moment I have shifted from the retail division to the wholesale planning division, but the same concept of having stock to make sales still applies! As for my career as a wellness coach, this is an industry I fell into when I became very overweight during college and was introduced to a nutrition system by my mother. I experienced a lot of success with it and decided I wanted to share it with others as well! Since then I’ve learned about the network marketing industry and the expansive opportunities for growth it provides and decided to jump in and join the industry.

For you, what was the most valuable part of your PhilaU education?  Did your PhilaU education influence your career path?

FAA 2The most valuable part of my PhilaU education was the extra-curricular activities I was involved in. While the courses and professors were vital, the extra-curriculars are what allowed me to really figure out who I was and explore different passions during college. From networking events with the Future Alumni Association and barbeques with the Honors Student’s Association to being a part of The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life every year, these opportunities for personal development and the friendships I made along the way continue to be priceless.

The education I received at PhilaU definitely influenced my career path in terms of the companies I choose to work for. Both the fashion and nutrition companies have strong values I identify with and promote contribution, entrepreneurship and a dedication to personal development. These are all values that were ingrained in me during my time at PhilaU.

Tell me about any special recognition that you have received and any organizations or networks that you are involved with.

I am involved with a group of entrepreneurs working towards bringing health and wealth to more people than ever before called the Start your Life Movement. This group of 18-35 year olds has a vision to “ignite all young people to own their lives physically and financially, and through our contributions, create freedom and a lasting legacy.” This group is primarily responsible for the tremendous personal development I have been exposed to in my career and has introduced me some of my greatest role models. I am also involved with Levo League, a networking group for women in the early stages of their career. This is an international organization with chapters in nearly every major city (including Philadelphia!) that holds workshops on topics such as wage equality and negotiations, resume writing, healthy living and goal setting. If you are not a member, I highly recommend checking out their website!

Tell me about any challenges you’ve faced in your career and how you overcame them.

The biggest challenge I have faced so far is dealing with being in a completely new environment. Going from a place where I had been completely comfortable to two new jobs with new people, in new places was challenge because I didn’t feel like I belonged there at first. The biggest key to overcoming this was building up my self-belief and understanding that if I was hired for a job, someone picked me because they believed in me. As with overcoming most challenges, I find it truly is all in my head.

Tell me about the most rewarding/interesting part of your career.  

The most rewarding part of my career definitely comes from the wellness coaching part of my life. I love getting to see people transform physically, mentally and financially and to really understand that each of us has the power to change our lives for the better with a little focus and dedication and a lot of support from people who share the same values and drive to create a better world.

What are the guiding principles that you feel have helped you succeed in your career?

Do everything with integrity, contribute as much as you can, never stop learning, express your gratitude and don’t forget to catch a sunset every once in a while.

Tell me a little about your life outside of work.  How do you balance work and life?

I believe work life balance is vital to living a happy life! I love to hike and be outdoors, play with my dog Rudie, travel as often as I can and read nearly any book I can get my hands on. With so much of my life being dedicated to work, I believe it is important to chase my own dreams outside the 9-5. I do not take my laptop home and do not have my work e-mail on my phone. When I am off the clock, it is my time to focus on my family, friends and my own dreams, not check my work email for updates every hour! Partnering with my nutrition company is helping me get closer to my dream of not having to ever worry about work-life balance, because as my own boss I would make the rules, set my own hours to work (from home!) and choose how to spend every minute of my time!

If you could pass along a lesson to current PhilaU students and recent grads, what would it be?

My biggest piece of advice is to take advantage of every opportunity you possibly can while at Philadelphia University. Join a new club, take up breakdancing, learn French; CD6chose one or many! Go hiking on Forbidden Drive, go to concerts in Center City, get on a bus and spend a Saturday exploring New York City. Apply to any internship that catches your eye, ask a lot of questions, and don’t stand in the corner at networking events. Philadelphia University is a tremendous institution with international recognition for its programs, it is up to you to use this to your advantage and make it some of the best years of your life.

FAA and What It’s All About

FAA 6Tell us about yourself. Describe your professional background.

My name is Tiffany Araujo ’15. I was born and raised in Colonia, New Jersey. I graduated this pass May with a B.S in Psychology and a minor in Law and Society. I am currently a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, working towards my degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

What is the Future Alumni Association? What was your involvement? FAA 11

The Future Alumni Association (FAA) is student organization that works to create a bridge between PhilaU students and alumni. When I joined FAA, I began as vice president and later became president. As an organization, we created many opportunities for students to become involved while at PhilaU, with the goal of them becoming active alumni. We developed three kinds of events: professional development, philanthropic, along with a few that were fun and inviting.

During our professional development events, we invited alumni back to campus and asked them to offer advice to students interested in preparing for their FAA 4careers. This was done through several events. Each semester we incorporated at least one workshop. For example, we had one that focused on how to create and properly utilize a LinkedIn profile, as well as building resumes. Three alumni returned to campus and explained the dos and don’ts of resume building. They also sat with each student and reviewed their resume and LinkedIn profile.  During the Portfolio Coaching event, alumni from various design disciplines met with students to discuss how to improve their portfolios in preparation for the Design Expo.

FAA 8We also held many philanthropic events. For instance, in November, we worked closely with the Office of Development and Alumni Relations to coordinate the First Annual Day of Giving. We invited students to support the PhilaU fund, scholarships, colleges, schools, centers and athletics. We kicked off the event in the Kanbar Performance Space where students, faculty and staff enjoyed food from Chipotle, Slices, Panera and more, while listening to music from Ram this Radio. There were also activities for students such as pine cone decorating and playing board games. Day of Giving raised a total of $47,021.71 from 354 donors!

FAA 5

Lastly, other activities FAA hosts are meant to allow the PhilaU community to enjoy themselves and continue developing a close “RAMily.” We have held potluck, fall festivals and Senior Week. These events allowed our students to get together and find time to meet new people and become closer to those they already know.

How can Alumni volunteer/participate with Future Alumni Association events?FAA 9

Alumni can become involved in many ways. Alumni can help run workshops on different topics such as financial literacy, communication, how to prepare for an interview and more. Furthermore, alumni can host Dinner with the Rams, a program which connects current students with successful alumni. This provides students with the opportunity to learn more about their fields while networking with successful members of the PhilaU community.

What is your vision for Future Alumni Association now that you have graduated?

FAA 3I wish to see them continue to grow. In the two, going on three years, that I have been involved with FAA, I have seen an organization go from the beginning struggles to a very structured and prepared organization. Since I am currently the alumni liaison between FAA and First 5, this will allow me to continue helping FAA from an alumni perspective. I believe they will continue to support student development and professional development with the events and programs they provide. Each semester, I have seen students come up with great ideas for new events. I truly believe the current executive board is going to do great things this upcoming year. Tonight, they kick off the semester with their first annual event, “FAA Presents: Your Future at PhilaU”.