Welcome to #MentorMonday! Mondays are dedicated to celebrating Black LICENSED Architects, Designers, and individuals in the profession of Architecture!
The questions asked to these individuals are to allow us into their lives and to be used as an inspiration. I hope you all enjoy this series.
Name: Whitley Fields
Hometown: Plano, TX
What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?
As a child I developed a passion for design through various creative arts programs and activities I was involved in. This passion for creative arts sparked a desire to pursue a career in the field of Architecture and Design.
What does it mean to be a black architect to you? Do you feel that you have more responsibility?
I am my ancestors wildest dream…As a Black Female Architect my license means everything to me simply because representation matters. In 2018 only 0.2-0.3% of Architects are African American females. I believe in leading by example and sharing my journey as stepping stone for minorities interested in the Field of Architecture to know that it can and has been achieved.
Specifically as a black architect I believe our biggest responsibility is to give back to those aspiring to be architects. To ensure that there are many more black architects for years to come. Exposure is key as many youth don’t even see architecture or design as a career option.
What are some obstacles you’ve experienced or currently experiencing as a black architect/designer?
If I can speak frankly I believe that obstacles I face as a black female architect are probably relate-able to experiences held by most black females in any profession. My advice would be to speak up and be heard. Find your niche and a firm that accepts you for who you are and allows you blossom in the profession. Get out and network, find a mentor currently in a position you hope to be in one day. You’ll find that the number of black architects are growing. There may be more of us in your area that you think.
Should we ignore race in this profession?
Race should not be ignored in any profession as race is still an ongoing issue in our Country. Specifically when it comes to architecture there are several discussions, organizations, and committees that have begun the conversation of race in the design professions. In my local area AIA Kansas City Equity in Architecture Committee is leading the charge. Check them out here:
If you could give advice to a black student in Architecture school right now, what would it be?
My advice would be continue to work twice as hard as the rest. Get your license, it’s a must! Never give up it WILL be well worth it.
Describe a moment you were at your lowest on your pursuit to licensure and how did you overcome it?
Pursuit of licensure is a tough road. There’s the financial responsibility with each exam as well as the vast amount of material that one must study and obtain for their license. There was a time when a friend and I were studying for the same exam. She passed and I did not. It was hard to overcome. I felt like a failure but in reality I had only failed an exam. One which I could retake. I learned that nothing worth having comes easy and that I was on my own unique journey to licensure which I could not compare to others.