#MentorMonday: Jennifer Estime
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: Jennifer Estime – JenniferEstime.com
Hometown: Miami, Florida /Haitian-American
What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and Planning and when?
I have always loved to draw, and at a young age when my parents were looking to buy a home I became very excited and would sketch out layouts that came to mind. I understood the concept of floor plans at an early age from this home owner search. My interest in design and architecture began then and is an ongoing passion.
What does it mean to be a black architect/designer to you? Do you feel that you have more responsibility?
As a professional that happens to be both black and a female in our industry – we are definitely the minority. For me, this means we hold a huge responsibility to share the in’s and outs of growing professionally to younger colleagues as well as emerging youth.
What are some obstacles you’ve experienced or currently experiencing as a black architect/designer?
As the black professional in the room you tend to carry the weight of explaining socially current happenings, political controversies, or slang words to others who may not have as much exposure to the cultural. Although, this may be uncomfortable, I see it as a way to initiate healthy dialogue with others who may not otherwise hear from our minority group.
Should we ignore race in this profession?
Race issues exist so it should not be ignored. Although, race conversations have time and place – race discrimination should never. Always use your voice among any injustice and never sell yourself short. Always speak up if anything is withheld from you – especially respect. Everything is a learning lesson, and knowing your worth while on this journey is important.
If you could give advice to a black student in Architecture school right now, what would it be?
Be bold. Do not stray away from writing the reports on the numbers of black professionals in the industry (or lack of), use black architects precedents as the basis for next studio project, and learn about other culturals as well. We have great Architects, General Contractors, and Developers doing amazing projects and this can be used as encouragement. If you don’t find what your looking for it may be an area/niche for you to fill. Keep pushing, learning and pressing forward.
Describe a moment you were at your lowest on your pursuit to licensure and how did you overcome it?
How important is representation?
Representation is crucial, but unfortunately not always available. It is important to share your knowledge as you grow in your journey. Take action and assist in advancement within the industry. Advocate for community/culture by being a mentor and giving your time to others.