#MentorMonday: Tekisha Ivy Jordan

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.

Name:

Tekisha Ivy Jordan 

Hometown:

Miami, FL; Born in West Point, Mississippi 

What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and when?

When I was very young my father and Mr. Ed (the tv show) sparked my interest in architecture. Mr. Ed’s owner was an architect and I asked my dad to explain what an architect was. By the time he finished I decided that’s what I wanted to do. Later on, the disparity of growing up in an underserved community while attending school in a “newer nicer less black” community solidified my decision.

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

Being a black designer (architecture major, urban planner) means a lot to me, I get to bring the perspective of my community to the table and the decision making process. I’m proud to be one of the few black women that decided to pursue this field of study. I do not feel that I have more responsibility as a black designer, although I intend to do my best and represent, I am also aware that the black community is not monolithic. Even if I tried I could not represent all facets of my community.

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

A typical experience as a black woman designer is being underestimated, over analyzed, and being mistaken for the person responsible for coffee, note taking and copies at meetings, instead of the subject matter expert. At times the fact that I’m a black woman is overlooked based on some of the comments and conversations in my presence. As funny as it sounds my blackness makes me invisible at times.

Should we ignore race in this profession?

No, we should not ignore race in this profession nor should race be ignored in any scenario. Race, ethnicity, culture and colloquialism (perspectives of the local community) should be celebrated and influence the decision making process.

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

Take up space, network, intern, find a mentor, ask questions, learn everything, choose a skill and become proficient. Look for jobs while in school don’t wait until you graduate. 

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

It took way longer than I expected to receive my hours. Life happened, jobs changed, and some things fell through the cracks. At one point, I thought that licensure would not be apart of my narrative. I found a fulfilling career in planning and was satisfied. One day I read an NCARB email decided to update my record and licensure became a goal again.   

How important is representation?

Representation is very important because my community needs to know that people that look like them are capable of everything. I decided to pursue urban planning because of an Essence article with a full page picture of black woman planner. Before that article I didn’t know that career path existed and would not have imagined that some  one that looked like me would be doing it.

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