#MentorMonday: Samantha Josaphat, RA

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: Samantha Josaphat
Hometown: Poughkeepsie, NY and Marietta & Douglasville, GA
What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?

Di-satisfaction in residential design when I was house hunting with my mother in 9th grade.

What does it mean to be a black architect to you? Do you feel that you have more responsibility?

A unicorn within a micro climate. Although our numbers are on a steady rise the number of Black colleagues within your immediate “bubble” at Architecture school (unless you’re at an HBCU) or at work is still sadly 0-1. I don’t feel like I have more of a responsibility because people will do what they want to do, I was never a fan of being someone’s burden, as I believe it stunts growth. I do make it an effort to illustrate the positive outcomes of being an Architect to those who are on the path or who are curious. Through my own actions I hope to inspire.

What are some obstacles you’ve experienced or currently experiencing as a black architect/designer?

Not having the equal opportunity for my voice or ideas to be heard. Having to remind myself that when management says they are using reverse racism with me that that is not true, as the act of communication does not compensate for value and respect.

Should we ignore race in this profession?

Maybe, I believe if we pay attention to what Minority means within the profession and  socioeconomics our profession will become better designers with a diverse range of point of views, marking design more complete.

If you could give advice to a black student in Architecture school right now, what would it be?

Practice on improving yourself, and pay attention to both your highs and lows by making all experiences the reason you are strong. My weaknesses turned into my strengths personally and professionally. Not by setting it as a goal but just by working at it.

Describe a moment you were at your lowest on your pursuit to licensure and how did you overcome it?

My lowest was when I was failing exams and leadership at my firm was being unnecessarily disrespectful, which rubbed off on my colleagues. I over came those moments by one using it as comedic relief as to how often it happened in one day and by teaching myself to refocus by leaving all experiences at the office and going home and going hard with studying at least 2 hours every day and making that my priority.

How important is representation?

Representation is important as it adds to the confidence in professionals, whether you know of a black architect from a distance or if that means adding to the number of people in your office that understands the culture or environment in which you live.

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