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Student Stories

Why choose Drexel Architecture? There are a variety of reasons, but a consistently cited reason is to become engaged with practice early in the study of architecture. Our students are looking for relevant experience in practice that will inform their academic studies. Other important reasons include the ability to earn a salary while in school and to gain a significant measure of independence in pursuing their education.

Drexel facilitates the connection to the profession with an adjunct faculty of practicing architects, many of whom are leaders in their firms in the Philadelphia region. Our full-time professors and staff support the adjunct faculty and oversee curriculum that explores contemporary issues in our city and neighborhood.

While Drexel is known for a commitment to the COOP work experience, our program is different in that it emphasizes full-time employment. We help our students get jobs as they enter the evening program. We do this through our pool of adjunct professionals, by reinforcing useful skill sets, posting job listings on our website and by helping students to prepare for interviews with resume and website portfolio reviews.

In our current senior class, 95% of the students are employed in design practices and earning IDP credits towards their professional registration requirements. Our students are hard working, dedicated employees who are much sought after in the local design marketplace. The following stories describe some of our current students experiences.


Marissa Gray

2nd Year, 2+4 Program

Where you are from?
I’m from Brodheadsville, PA, more commonly known as part of the Pocono Mountains.

Why you chose to pursue your education at Drexel?
My initial interest in Drexel sprung from the good news I was hearing back from students in my high school. Their older siblings went to Drexel and had very positive experiences as far as co-op and academic success. After looking into the architecture program and its integrated 2+4 option, I was sold.

How this Architecture program met your educational goals?
The Architecture program has met my educational goals by providing me with new perspectives and options. The first year curriculum provides a lot of creative opportunities to orient one self with architecture as a conceptual and artistic form, while second year adds the reality aspect of structure, codes, and order. The ability to start my career, not only while still in school, but in virtually any type of environment such as a firm, contracting or construction company, engineering practice, etc., is what drew me to believe Drexel lets you take your education, and therefore your future, in the direction you want it to go.

What it takes to achieve success with this program.
Drive, Patience, Persistence, and Social Skills. Not only do you have to be a driven student to be successful, but you have to be patient in working with others, persistent in what you want out of your education, and social so as to interact and make valuable connections with your professors and classmates that will ultimately help you in the future and for the rest of your life.

Your involvement in student organizations and life outside of the classroom.
Drexel AIAS. This organization has done more for me than any other activity I’ve been involved in. Although it’s associated to the field of architecture, it provides so many other benefits. Having gone to two regional and two national conferences I have been inspired by my peers to go forth and teach others what we’re all about. The friends and connections I’ve made not only at Drexel but across the country have taught me to be a leader, be innovative, and push for what you think is important. We’re doing big things as a completely student run organization that can change the fields of architectural education and practice as we know it.

Impressions about the full time and professional adjunct faculty.
The Drexel Architecture faculty are simply wonderful. Our professors are both our mentors and our peers. I have no problem asking them for advice on work, professional, or personal topics, and I know they’re willing to help wherever they can. The relationship between our students and faculty is strong as we meet and communicate often, and even when we’re apart or at different institutions we stay in contact.

Your plans upon graduation.
Upon graduation I would eventually like to make my way out west and work in the Las Vegas region. I’m interested in commercial hospitality and urban planning. I think approaching their “Strip” of a city would be interesting, as well as tackling sustainability issues such as the lack of water supply. Gensler also has a location out there, and I’d love to work for them one day.

Marissa Gray

Jacob Gulezian

4th year Evening Student

Where you are from?
I’m originally from Takoma Park, Maryland, I graduated from the Washington International School in 2011 with an International Baccalaureate bilingual diploma.

Why did you chose to pursue your education at Drexel?
The choice to come to Drexel was simple, no other school offered an accredited architecture degree as well as the opportunity to get practical experience and real world training as a professional.

Your professional work experience and how this supplemented your evening studies.
At times, architecture can become lost in theory and diverge away from reality. School is the best opportunity for experimenting, but the ability to put theory into practice by working gives us a better understanding of what to expect upon graduation.

What it takes to achieve success with this program.
Without a doubt it takes drive to succeed in this program, self-motivation and consistent energy are paramount to thrive. This holds true in life and there’s no better place to learn that than here.

Impressions about the full time and professional adjunct faculty.
The faculty and staff are helpful and understanding, most of them are working architects so they can relate to long days and sleepless nights in studio, they’ve all been here before they know better than anyone what it takes to be a student and a professional in this field. The knowledge they can impart to you is invaluable, but they are also great people, easily approachable and easy to talk to.

Jacob Gulezian

Darinel Tapia

4th year Evening Student

Where you are from?
I was born and raised for part of my life in a small town just south of Mexico City. My family now resides in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania and I currently live in Philadelphia.

What was academic background prior to coming to Drexel?
I started the evening program at Drexel from first year; I did however take some design courses prior to Drexel at a different college that transferred towards my degree curriculum.

Why did you choose to pursue your education at Drexel?
I chose the Drexel program because of the amazing flexibility between work and study. Drexel offered an opportunity to have a real work experience while getting the required degree in order to become an Architect. I think it’s essential to know what the real working world has to offer before graduation and Drexel is the perfect place to acquire those skills.

How the Architecture program met your educational goals?
The Drexel Architecture has given me many opportunities to succeed in my academic career by providing a fantastic mentoring faculty that are practicing architects and have real experience when they arrive to teach. Having the opportunity to learn from them is a terrific honor.

Your professional work experience and how this supplemented your evening studies.
Working in an Architecture firm has thought me essential skills for the profession. The office environment provides skills that correlate with the evening studies.

What it takes to achieve success with this program.
I have found that a combination of time management, hard work and a dedication to architecture have been the key ingredients to be successful in the program. Another great skill that is important is to be able to pick up trace and think on paper. Do not rely on computers as a starting point in your design process.

Your plans upon graduation.
My plans upon graduation include traveling abroad and learning as much about architecture from other parts of the world and keep learning as much as I can in future jobs. Someday I also want to be able to practice architecture in a firm I can call my own.

Darinel Tapia

Zoe Spencer

5th year Evening Student

Where you are from?
Midland, Michigan and Houston, TX.

Your academic background?
I started the 2+4 program as a Freshman. I worked for a small architecture firm in high school, which gave me some early exposure to the profession.

Why you chose to pursue your education at Drexel?
I was initially attracted to the city life Drexel offered, seemingly a perfect place to study architecture. After visiting, I really liked the small class size of the architecture program. In the end though, the study/work program seemed like an opportunity I could not pass up.

How this Architecture program met your educational goals?
I like how the majority of Drexel professors are current professionals in field, so they are more down to earth than the typical college professor. The program offers a variety of history and professional electives, which can actually be applied to the real world and studio. Drexel provides a key link between academia and the work force, which I think gives students a big step up upon graduation.

Your professional work experience and how this supplemented your evening studies.
I started working the beginning of my third year, and I have been at BLT Architects for the past year. Working in a firm really helps you understand how things get built, which in turn, informs design in studio. To me, the technical education from a firm, at such a young age, is invaluable experience. You also learn and how to work efficiently in a variety of computer programs, and how to work well with your peers.

What it takes to achieve success with this program?
A person studying architecture needs to love it. In this field, the successful people are the ones who work hard. Working and going to school at night definitely takes some time to get used to, but I think the learning experience from doing both, is pretty remarkable.

Your involvement in student organizations and life outside of the classroom.
I am an alumna of Alpha Sigma Alpha and a member of AIAS. I was also a STAR Scholar and a teacher’s assistant in Drexel’s Discovering Architecture Program.

Your plans upon graduation.
I hope to take some sort of break and travel the world! But after that I plan on getting a masters in a more specific field of architecture.

Zoe Spencer

Katrina Connors

6th year Evening Student

Where you are from?
I'm originally from Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, small town outside of Pottsville.

Your academic background prior to coming to Drexel:
I graduated from Blue Mountain High School. While I was in high school, a variety of experiences spiked my interest in architecture. I spent the summer going into my junior year as a Rotary International Essex Exchange Student and I lived with a host family in Celle, Germany. My host father owned his own architecture firm and one of the daughters was about to start pursuing architecture at a university. Before that summer I never knew an architect or experienced anyone going to school for architecture. I look back on the experience and I realize it was my first introduction to the “lifestyle of architecture”.

I also participated in Drexel's Discovering Architecture Summer Program during the summer going into my senior year of high school. I recommend this program to any high school student interested in architecture, but unsure of what architecture or architecture school really means. The program gave me an enthusiasm about architecture that I still feel today when I'm excited about my studio project, talking with other students, or seeing my projects at work come to life.

Why did you chose to pursue your education at Drexel?
When I was looking at universities, I mainly focused on their architecture programs because they vary greatly between schools. I ultimately decided to come to Drexel because of its commitment to prepare students for the profession. I've always been a hands-on learner and the opportunity to start working in the field while continuing my education appealed to me.

How this Architecture program met your educational goals?
Drexel's architecture program does an excellent job at blending the academia of architecture and the profession of architecture. There are simply some things that you need to learn in school and some that you will learn while practicing at a firm. Drexel offers students an opportunity to start learning all aspects of the field early on in their career. This well-rounded education has allowed me to apply what I'm learning from my studies to my work at the office and vice versa.

Your professional work experience and how this supplemented your evening studies.
I started working at KlingStubbins during the summer of my second year at Drexel. I have now been there for about 2.5 yrs and I've found my experience beneficial and extremely rewarding. My office does an amazing job of mentoring me, while also being understanding of my schoolwork. My coworkers are genuinely interested in my work and often give me additional help and advice on my studio work. I find this to be true for most firms in the Philadelphia area as they've had great relations with Drexel students.

What it takes to achieve success with this program?
Dedication, but anyone going into architecture school anywhere needs dedication. I think an important trait for Drexel Architecture Students is time management and efficiency. This isn't something you'll get right away and you will be continuously challenged each year to learn how to balance all aspects of your life down to individual tasks. Because Drexel Architecture students are faced with this challenge, they are better equipped with this important skill and from what I've experienced, employers recognize this value in Drexel students.

Your involvement in student organizations and life outside of the classroom.
I have been a participating member in the Drexel AIAS chapter since my freshman year. It’s a great organization that has a lot to offer young emerging professionals in architecture. I also like to stay active in the Philadelphia AIA and AIA associate events. Recently, I've been trying to be more active in my local civic association.

Your plans upon graduation.
One of the most appealing things about the field of architecture and going to architecture school is that it can take you in many different directions; and I haven't completely figured out what direction I’m interested in most. My overall goals are to become licensed and consider going to graduate school.

Katrina Conners

Rob Hallock

7th Year Thesis Student

Where you are from?
I went to high school in a suburb of Rochester, NY, but I grew up in Sonoma County, CA.

Your academic background?
I am a 2+4 student that came to Drexel directly from high school.

Why you chose to pursue your education at Drexel?
Drexel was the most practical of the schools into which I was accepted. While getting the IDP hours early on in the process and being on a fast track to licensure was important, the hands on experience and learning-by-doing was what really excited me about Drexel’s program. Most students from other schools are in for a reality check upon starting their real first job (trust me, I’ve worked with them), but the transition was much more gradual as a Drexel student.

How this Architecture program met your educational goals?
Drexel’s program has allowed me the opportunity to gain real-world experience while in a school setting. Student loan debt was a big fear of mine in an age where the average debt per student is increasing dramatically. Through working fulltime and applying for scholarships at Drexel and from private sources, I have worked to eliminate this fear. Working has also allowed me to complete 100% of my IDP hours before graduation, cutting the typical 5-year degree + 3-year internship period down to a total of 6 years for both. This will allow me to sit for my licensing exams immediately following graduation and graduate with 4 years of fulltime employment at the same firm.

Your professional work experience and how this supplemented your evening studies.
Studio gives insight into many standard design practices and methods, with a heavy influence on practicality and sustainable design. The office provides an environment where students can learn the inner workings of what is broadly covered in the classroom. There is significantly more time than during a typical 3 to 6 month internship to be involved on complex projects where collaborative efforts are required. This learning practice is much better suited to post-graduation work life. Working for extended periods of time (unlike typical summer or semester-long internships that other schools offer) also allows students to gain respect, work on long-term projects, and see projects through all phases of the design process, from schematic through construction and close-out.

What it takes to achieve success with this program?
Working fulltime while attending classes is a big commitment. Like any architecture program, it takes a lot of hard work, but it also requires significant skills in personal time management. The responsibilities of the work environment even during school are very real. The same professional deadlines for the office apply to students.

Your involvement in student organizations and life outside of the classroom.
I participated in the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) during my first 4 years of the program. Now I am involved in a variety of community organizations specific to my interests and location. Working and having a salary have also afforded me opportunities to travel and become involved in multiple professional organizations.

Impressions about the full time and professional adjunct faculty.
Working with the full time faculty is similar to what I have seen in other university settings. The adjunct faculty with which students work during the evening portion of the program have significant real-world experience, often being partners or principals in local firms, and really help reinforce the connection between the academic and professional architecture settings.

Your plans upon graduation.
I have not fully decided where I will go next, but the program has given me the stability and option to stay where I am, with a respectable professional position and an apartment I can maintain on my own, and professional network that I will retain for years to come.

Rob Hallock