I have just begun my 3 year doctorate of architecture at the University of Hawaii and the timer has just begun for me to decide on my thesis topic. And I don’t know what to do.
My mom always tells me that to take charge of my life, my career path, and ultimately my success, I need to 1, switch over to medicine and 2, “go out there and take it for yourself”. And its true, because only you can decide what success is for yourself. At the young, under-ripe age of 18, I decided to commit to architecture (for at least four years) and through all the long nights and hard work, I realized that my parents couldn’t help me from this point on. Neither of them have an artistic bone in their body. Those four years passed, and I need to consider another commitment: architecture, planning, construction management, landscape, interior design. How do I choose? Easy: $$$.
I’m just kidding. But I’ve found that being a part of different conferences and events help shape me by my interests. In the past two years, I’ve attended the American Institute of Architecture Students’ (AIAS) West Quad Conferences in Seattle and Las Vegas, Forum conference in San Francisco, the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) Speak-Up Conference in Washington DC, and the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Summit, here in Hawaii. I’ve also put myself in a position of leadership: last year as the chapter treasurer of AIAS and today, the chapter president. All of these events have pulled me in the direction of healthcare, landscaping, advocacy, planning, I can barely keep up. But I am grateful for the help I’ve been given from conferences like these.
Right before school started up again, I received an email from a professor who thought I might especially be interested in an upcoming conference because of my expressed interest in landscape design. I attended the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Summit with very little background knowledge of stormwater infrastructure beyond the broken sewer pipes lurking beneath the city of Honolulu, and a short semester’s worth of design research on inundation from a 3 foot sea level rise in the Ala Moana area as a third-year undergraduate. What I know for sure however, is that I live on an island with nearly one-million others, and that my family’s home sits 15 feet above sea level. The best thing about the conference was that all the research I was looking for that one short semester was all here in one place, and it re-ignited my interest in public impact design. I saw technology I had found in my research and many more new technologies and techniques from around the nation put into real practice - and everyone around me had an investment into bettering the future.
Although my mom wants me to take life by the collar, as a student, the support we receive from the community to take part in events and conferences are ones that help guide those like me to find our interests and successes. I want to thank the Hawaii chapter of the ASLA for sponsoring my attendance, as I am profoundly impacted by seeing just how far we, as a nation, have come about preserving and celebrating the gift of clean water. I can see that the precedence of sustainable practice has been set for the next generation of designers like me, and that there is much more beyond hope for the future.