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Alumni Stories

Completing your education in architecture at Westphal College is just the beginning of a life long journey of collaboration, discovery and practice. When you graduate we don’t just kick you out of the door – you leave here with a built network of professional peers and dedicated instructors who are a critical resource at the start of your professional careers. The strength of this program is based on the success of our graduates.


Jennifer Shin

Bachelor of Architecture ('13)

Current occupation and title:
Architectural Designer at Leroy Street Studio in New York City

How long have you been working there?
I started Jan 2, 2014. I'm really excited to work with them and can't think of a better place to start out in NYC.

What are some of the most exciting aspects of your occupation and career?
The beginning of a building project is always exciting, especially if we, the designers, get to help shape what a building is and how it is used with the people who will use it. I think it’s the potential of architecture -- knowing what it could be, and working to get there -- that excites me the most.

What would you consider as your greatest achievement in this occupation?
Well, since I’m just starting out, I’d say graduating architecture school, and working during studies, is in itself an achievement. Of course, I hope to achieve much more.

What made you decide to go into this career?
As a kid, I was always taken by the ability for spaces and places to move me. I knew of magic spaces without really understanding what about them made them magic. Architecture empowered me to not only understand this magic, but also help in its creation.

What made you choose Westphal over similar programs?
I chose Westphal simply for its practicality. As a first generation American, practicality is embedded into my core. Drexel is founded on the principle that a Drexel education should prepare its students for the working world, and that principle resonated within me.

How did your time at Westphal prepare you for your career?
The Architecture Department’s work and study curriculum put me into the work force while still in school, helping me to start my career while allowing me to move through at my own pace.

Was our faculty helpful to you in making the transition from college to the professional world? And, are you still in contact with them today?
Since the architecture program puts its students into the professional world during study, the faculty plays a key role in helping to place its students into good firms in Philadelphia. I am still in contact with many faculty and professors, and I consider them good friends and allies.

What advice would you give to young people in your field who are just starting their education?
Architecture (and any design or creative field) is hard work. You will put in too many hours and sleep too little, but if you love it, the rewards will multiply tenfold. Trust your instincts, do work that is true to you, and be open to anything and everything.

Jennifer Shin

Uk Jung

Bachelor of Architecture (’08)

Current occupation and title:
Architect at KieranTimberlake

How long have you been working there?
I've been working at KieranTimberlake for three years.

What are some of the most exciting aspects of your occupation and career?
There is a wide range of project types at a variety of scales, so we are able to influence in many ways the places in which people work, live, learn, or sometimes how people experience the urban environment. For example, architects can specify how a particular handrail may be shaped to how a university may grow over 20 years.

What would you consider as your greatest achievement in this occupation?
The architectural practice is very collaborative so it is very difficult to separate out my achievements. And I still think my career is just beginning, even with over 9 years in the industry. So my achievement so far is being in position where I can contribute to not only what is designed, but also contribute to the process of architectural design and documentation.

What made you decide to go into this career?
I had always wanted to be a sculptor. But in high school I took an art history class, and during that time learned about the long history between art and architecture. That is the first time I started considering architecture as a profession.

What made you choose Westphal over similar programs?
The Drexel architecture program is unique in supporting meaningful work experience while studying. Most people point to the fact that this can help you find a job after school and curtail costs, and conversely that it could restrict creativity and exploration in school. But for me, I was mostly curious about the profession and wanted an opportunity to be involved early.

How did your time at Westphal prepare you for your career?
By being able to simultaneously study architecture and work in the industry, it allowed me to explore the gap between academia and the profession. It wasn’t just a reconciliation between academia and the profession, but an opportunity to develop my own sense of the architectural design process through exploration of both. Through the program, I was also able to travel often; for me travel was essential in understanding cultural influences on architecture and to also to get a sense of the buildings and places I’ve seen only in drawings and pictures.

Was our faculty helpful to you in making the transition from college to the professional world? And, are you still in contact with them today?
The Drexel architectural faculty was very helpful with the transition to the professional world especially because many of them are actively engaged with the industry. I still remain in contact with the faculty and hope to continue to do so. I’ve started teaching at Drexel part-time last year and that is a great way to stay connected.

What advice would you give to young people in your field who are just starting their education?
Specifically for Drexel architecture students, it is easy to become weighed down by the profession; practical requirements, industry standards, work deadlines, and simply just lack of time and energy for both work and school. To get beyond that, you need to work at a place that is supportive and supplements your architectural education. You also need to identify when to leverage both study and work and when to separate them; for example for studio work, there are times when pragmatic constraints absorbed from work can lead you to limited thinking and limited solutions, while other times they can enrich and bring the right rigor to your design concept exploration.

Uk Jung

Tony Bracali, AIA

Bachelor of Architecture (’99)

Current occupation and title:
President, Friday Architects/Planners, Inc

What are some of the most exciting aspects of your occupation and career?
I like the challenge of "charting my own course." Being able to pursue the types projects and clients that I find exciting and interesting.

What would you consider as your greatest achievement in this occupation?
I certainly hope there are more to come; but so far my most rewarding project has been Paines Park; Philadelphia's new public skate park built on the banks of the Schuylkill River near the Art Museum. It was a real labor of love and I'm proud to have been part of it.

What made you decide to go into this career?
I was always interested in drawing and for many years with Legos. My fourth grade girlfriend's father was an architect. He had a nice office and he owned a DeLorean (the car from Back to the Future); so I thought that I really couldn't go wrong.

What made you choose Westphal over similar programs?
I wanted to work as soon as possible; so the co-op was for me. I also thought that the City was the right place go for architecture school.

How did your time at Westphal prepare you for your career?
My co-op helped me get ahead in my field and gain experience and exposure to the profession at a younger age that my competition.

Was our faculty helpful to you in making the transition from college to the professional world? And, are you still in contact with them today?
Yes. Many of them helped me and I am in touch with many today.

What advice would you give to young people in your field who are just starting their education?
Don't lose your energy and ambition. Find inspiring and fun places to work or projects to work on. And remember that in baseball, hitting 4 for 10 gets you into the Hall of Fame. Sometimes, success takes awhile and what seems like losing can actually be winning.

Tony Bracali

Kristopher Harris

Bachelor of Architecture (’07)

Current occupation and title:
Kris Harris Architect and Real Estate Development - Principal

How long have you been working there?
After working for a both a small boutique architecture firm for 5 years and a large corporate firm for 7 years, I decided in 2012 to start my own practice. We employ a non-traditional approach towards buildings and construction. Our strongest asset is how we manage all the phases of building delivery; develop-design-build. Through our complete process, we can ensure our buildings do not compromise on design, while remaining true to a pro-forma.

What are some of the most exciting aspects of your occupation and career?
There is something really magical about designing something and then seeing it realized. As architects, we spend countless hours developing concept and vision for a design inside a virtual environment on the computer. On screen it can be difficult to grasp every influence a design will have in the physical world. I am always amazed when a design is finally constructed, we get to walk around the project and experience it with all 5 senses.

What would you consider as your greatest achievement in this occupation?
My next project. I am always in pursuit of striving for excellence.

What made you decide to go into this career?
I have always loved drawing and making things with my hands. I particularly love solving spatial challenges. When I was a kid, I used to rearrange the furniture in my room all the time, each attempt solving a different set of design constraints.

What made you choose Westphal over similar programs?
I loved the education option that allowed me to intern during the day in my future career while going to school at night. Within 6 months of graduation, I was able to sit and for the ARE (architectural registration exam) and become a licensed professional. The national average for architects to become licensed is 3 years of internship and 27 months of testing. I believe this opportunity gave me a real "leg up" among colleagues from other other universities.

How did your time at Westphal prepare you for your career?
My time at Westphal instilled a work ethic that is essential to my career as an architect. The collaborative and interactive educational environment of the design studio required we meet proposed deadlines and to always put our best foot forward. The ethos of the studio has given me to confidence to succeed in the professional realm.

Was our faculty helpful to you in making the transition from college to the professional world? And, are you still in contact with them today?
Absolutely, it was a professionally practicing, adjunct faculty member that helped me get hired at one of my first jobs. He has been a mentor throughout my career and we are definitely in regular contact with one another.

What advice would you give to young people in your field who are just starting their education?
Each summer, between semesters, a student must find a way to submerse themselves within a career setting. Volunteer. Shadow a professional. Find a internship. It is absolutely essential to "test drive" potential occupations associated with your field of study. Not only can this be a great networking tool but most importantly it is way to solidify your passions and learn to how to monetize your education.

Kristopher Harris

Agnieszka Vinson

Bachelor of Architecture (’13)

Current occupation and title:
Runyan & Associates - Architects
Architect Intern - in the process of registration.

How long have you been working there?
6 years, since beginning of my architecture studies.

What are some of the most exciting aspects of your occupation and career?
I think that the field of architecture is so broad, that there is not one career path to follow. This kind of freedom may be paralyzing, but finding your strengths and interests is the most important and the most exciting. It was an instinctive and impulsive decision. I needed a challenge, and I found one.

What made you choose Westphal over similar programs?
I thought it was a great idea to be able to work while going to school, especially because apprenticeship is such an integral part of this profession. No other program in the area can offer what Westphal offers to architecture students.

Was our faculty helpful to you in making the transition from college to the professional world? And, are you still in contact with them today?
Most of the faculty (if not all) are "real-life" architects / engineers, who have worked in the field for many years, and bring a great amount of professional knowledge and experience into an academic world. Having been able to learn from them was a great opportunity. I'm in touch with a few of my teachers, and I know I could reach out to many more for guidance and professional advice.

What advice would you give to young people in your field who are just starting their education?
Architecture is complex. Don't get overwhelmed or discouraged. Work on your design skills without relying on the computer all the time. Learn to manage your time, so that after you graduate your friends and family still remember what you look like! Don't be too serious.

Agnieszka Vinson