#MentorMonday: Kionna Walker
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. The opinions and views expressed do not reflect those of America’s Hidden Gem(TM). They are exclusively opinions of those by whom they’re shared.
Born in Heidelberg, Germany. Raised in E. St. Louis and Belleville, IL. Currently residing in the Indianapolis Area
What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?
I was always intrigued by architecture, but I wasn’t aware of what it was until the 8th grade. The men in my family are skilled painters and carpenters. They sparked my interest, and my eighth grade industrial arts teacher formally introduced me to architecture.
What does it mean to be a black architect/ designer to you? Do you feel that you have more responsibility?
It means that I will stand out in any space I enter because the percentage of blacks in this profession is only 3%.
I feel like my responsibility is different. I feel responsible for doing what I can to increase the representation of blacks in the profession, especially black women. I know how hard I struggled and I want to be for others what I needed when I was striving towards this profession.
What are some obstacles you’ve experienced or currently experiencing as a black architect/ designer?
In school I struggled with comparison and self-confidence. Today my struggle is work-life balance.
Should we ignore race in this profession?
Absolutely not. Our differences are what give us varying perspectives, and those perspectives help us to be better designers. This is the reason diversity and inclusion is so important. Everyone’s contribution yields the best solution to serve all. Ignoring race limits the possibilities of a solution.
If you could give advice to a black student in Architecture school right now, what would it be?
Your power is being exactly who you are. Trust your creativity and don’t compare it or yourself to anyone else.
Describe a moment you were at your lowest on your pursuit to licensure and how did you overcome it?
It would have to be in college. I had a professor write me a note telling me that I should change my major because he didn’t think I would be successful in architecture. I took his note, which I still have today, and turned it into the fuel I needed to keep going. I took all my negative experiences and converted them into motivation.
How important is representation?
Extremely. Representation provides a voice for those that are represented. Representation allows someone to imagine themselves in the same position. Representation provides hope for those who may be currently having a difficult time. Representation is leadership.