#FutureArchitectFriday: Nonyelum Ogbodo
Hi readers! It’s #FutureArchitectFriday. A day to celebrate those pushing themselves to becoming licensed architects.
Name: Nonyelum Ogbodo
Hometown: Oakland, CA by way of Enugu Nigeria
Educational Status: 2nd Year Graduate
How would you describe your experience as a Black Architecture student?
As a dual masters student in both Real Estate Development+Urbanism and Architecture at the University of Miami, my experience as a Black Architecture student has been overwhelming while at the same time, rewarding. Having attended California State University for undergrad and The New School: Parsons NYC for post grad studies–being environmentally accustomed to both California and New York by way of Nigeria, I didn’t really realize how non-diverse other places in the U.S. were in comparison, until I got to Florida. On my first day of new student orientation I was able to see right away that I was only 1 of 2 black students at the School of Architecture as a whole, and the only black person in my actual program. I knew I was going to be in for the culture shock of my life. As the school year went on I found myself always explaining the sensitivity of architecture/development in predominantly black communities, and some people were just truly oblivious to the concept of gentrification as a whole. After so many times of me explaining the sensitivity of building/designing in black neighborhoods, I quietly became the go to person for people wanting to learn culture, which actually became the rewarding portion of my experience. It came to a point where I’m always selected amongst small groups of students to represent the program in a number of local prestige events of networking in the industry. As a result, I’ve been able to bring the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS), to the University of Miami.
Why do you want to get your licensed?
Aside from the fact that it is required to practice architecture in the U.S., I look to achieve my Architecture License to have the credibility to show young girls in Nigeria or Oakland, that there is room in the world of architecture for them!
My biggest influential figures are definitely my parents. My mom and dad both came to the U.S from Nigeria with nearly nothing, and I’ve watched them both climb the economic ladder in their fields of work. I grew up a bit more privileged than them, so when I think of their career journeys, It reminds me that I have NO EXCUSE not to excel and succeed. My biggest Inspiration is the NOMA Professional organization as a whole–I’m highly inspired by the success of my fellow board members.
How important is representation?
Representation of black people in the industry of Development and Architecture is extremely important. Reason being–most communities that need to be redeveloped or redesigned are those of black communities, and who better to revitalize our neighborhoods than those of us who have experienced them.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” -Romans 12:1-3