Recently I embarked on a new professional and personal quest. After deliberating for months and switching my mind between “Yes I’m gonna do it!” and “No I can’t do it!” I have decided for the favorable “Yes I can!”
Last week I finished the first week of a very long (but hopefully fun) three year Master of Architecture program at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona).
But first a bit of context and background:
I am a 23-year-old Mexican American born in the city of Cuernavaca, Morelos, MX. I came to the States at the age of 4 and have lived here since. I come from a working class family of five (mom, dad, brother, sister and me) and an even larger Mexican family that lives both here and back in Mexico.
Like many young boys and girls I was fortunate enough to own a rather large collection of Legos. Looking back I think this was my first encounter with a system of design. I remember how much I loved those things...I still do. But as I grew older I learned and realized the things I wanted and didn't want to be. I went from wanting to be a dolphin trainer, to the more scientific 'marine-biologist,' to a music teacher, then to a lawyer and finally...finally an Architect. Yet how exactly I got here still puzzles me. Looking back it's rather amazing to reflect on all the sacrifices I've made, opportunities I've had, luck I've encountered and the support I have had.
I firmly believe in the power of education and in the idea that we as humans are a collection of tiny pieces, both good and bad, that we take from those around us and implement into our own life. So through the power of education and the positive support of the great people around me I felt empowered enough to follow my dreams and make the crazy decision of going back to school.
After graduating high school I was convinced I wanted to be a music teacher. I mean, it made perfect sense: I was in the high school band all four years, I was an OK saxophone player and I held a leadership position within the band for three years (I was a drum major if you insist on knowing). So music teacher it is! Wrong!
Once I enrolled at Cal State Fullerton, a school known for its music education program, I realized I wasn't passionate enough about the program, not to mention the anxiety I felt thinking of job prospects (which of course I'm currently re-encountering, however with a different view and mentality). So I froze. I simply stopped pursuing the music education path and researched my alternatives over first two years of undergrad.
For various reasons, which I then blamed on external forces, I decided I would pursue a legal career. This was sort of a good and bad decision. On the one hand I had a practical justification for studying philosophy, a subject I really enjoyed. But on the other, I let the promise of financial riches cloud my judgment.
Eventually, like all things pursued for money, my dissatisfaction and genuine unhappiness with my career choice came to light.
During the last year of undergrad and for about a year after I interned and worked for a private criminal defense firm. This was both a learning experience and a wakeup call. I learned many things about the professional environment and about the legal profession, many of which are useful today. But most importantly I realized that I was not passionate about my job. I had no outlet to create or work 'hands-on' as some would say. Now I realize not all jobs are perfect, and those that are are few and far between, but this job was definitely not my fit. I met lots of great people during this time and each expressed the same words of wisdom: Do what you love and makes you happy.
Once I realized that law wasn't for me I began exploring career alternatives. Through the NAAB Web site I found a variety of three year professional architecture programs that did not require prior architectural experience. So I began contacting the schools, looking up general entry requirements and preparing a portfolio to the best of my abilities.
When I finished my BA degree I knew that I would not attend law school, but instead take some time off and finish preparing for a career switch. I attended the UCLA summer JumpStart program during the summer of 2009, and the rest is pretty much history.
So that brings me here, to the 2011 Fall quarter at Cal Poly Pomona.
I am excited to finally begin working towards a career I am passionate about. I'm sure this journey will come with many sleepless nights and lots of coffee but I am more than ready to take them on.
First-year graduate student in the M.Arch program at Cal Poly Pomona. I have a background in philosophy with little to no studio experience. I'm here to document my three year experience at Cal Poly and hopefully provide answers to those with non-architecture backgrounds seeking to enroll in an architecture program all while showing the various non-traditional ways of engaging with the academic discipline and further exploring the intersection of theory and practice.