#MentorMonday: Alexis Malone
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.
Lake Charles, Louisiana
What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?
It was a mixture of personal interest and shared interests with my mother that sparked my interest in architecture. I’ve always had a passion for the arts. This passion mixed with having a mom in a technical field (engineering) who always had HGTV on, and dabbling in home projects resulted in my interest in Architecture in elementary school.
What does it mean to be a black architect/ designer to you? Do you feel that you have more responsibility?
For me, being a black designer means I have the opportunity to have a voice in the built environment we all occupy. I take pride in knowing that my occupation makes an impact on how we feel in the spaces we occupy. I definitely feel that I have more responsibility as a black designer to bring awareness to the field in an attempt to promote more diversity. Through diversity in design, we can better inform our design decisions to exceed surface level aesthetics, and promote additional qualities of design that take culture, tradition, and community needs into account.
What are some obstacles you’ve experienced or currently experiencing as a black architect/ designer?
An obstacle I’ve experienced in the field of architecture is lack of leadership representation within the field. This directly impacts professional development. When searching for mentors, many of us look for someone who is excelling in the field that we can personally relate to on many levels. Race isn’t exclusive to mentorship, but it certainly helps when you can relate to a mentor on a levels including ebonics, culture, journey etc.
Should we ignore race in this profession?
We should not ignore race in this profession, and rather embrace it. There is so much we can learn from each other that would translate into more creative design practices, if we step outside the box of familiarity.
If you could give advice to a black student in Architecture school right now, what would it be?
My advice to a black student in architecture is to stay encouraged. You are not alone. Although the overall percentage of black individuals in academia and in the profession are small, we have a presence and we are needed and you are needed. Continue to develop mental toughness and the ability to receive critical feedback, as it will become a needed soft skill set as you transition into your career.
Describe a moment you were at your lowest on your pursuit to licensure and how did you overcome it?
I am currently still in my pursuit of licensure. During this time of testing, I have learned to be resilient, and to have a good core group of people around me as I embark on this journey of licensure. At times when I’m overwhelmed with the big picture, I take step back and absorb the moment, taking it one day at time.
How important is representation?
Representation is very important if we are to keep black professionals in the field. Many of us graduate from architecture programs, but do not stay in the field or switch to adjacent disciplines. To combat the turnover rate, it has to be more than just a personal intrinsic drive of representation to keep black professionals within the field. The architecture community as a whole needs to make a dramatic shift towards inclusion, so black professionals and other minorities feel embraced to stay.