Do you have a professor who has really inspired or challenged you? What did you learn from them?
On my first visit to the MLA program at Knoxville, our program director, Gale, took me around campus and around downtown to give me a proper tour of the grounds. We went to lunch with some of the faculty and other students and had a moment to chat about life after school. Gale mentioned how different practice can be from school, and how I might have a hard time adjusting to the theoretic and creative aspects of it all after having spent a few years in a civil based studio. I knew he was right, but I didn’t realize then what that meant. Being in school has caused what I consider growing pains. It’s been difficult for me to take that step into seeing past the lens of reality. Gale has pushed me personally to see past my own doubt and embrace this time to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. He has inspired me to take leaps I never would have considered, and I’m all the better for it. With my time in school, I have pushed my self more than I believed was possible, and now look forward to the growing pains. Thank you for challenging me, Gale.
What was your undergraduate degree and how did it influence your decision to pursue a MLA?
I have a Bachelors of Science in Residential Construction Management with a focus in land development. During my time in undergrad, I learned how to manage the construction of a neighborhood from clearing and grubbing to selling the house, but never quite understood the factors of design. During my final capstone, I met one Landscape Architect Randy Caldwell. He walked me through all the considerations of drawing the road and laying out the lots, and it was like a puzzle piece working with the land. There were so many factors I had never learned to consider. That was my introduction to Landscape Architecture. I now know how much more Landscape Architecture can be, and the systems we influence through design.
Why did you choose the School of Landscape Architecture at UTK?
While I was considering schools, I often consulted with the Landscape Architects I worked with for their opinion. It was important for me to stay in the southeast region so I could be close to family. Thankfully, that didn’t limit my choices as there were more than a dozen schools regionally with great programs. The advice I received was that graphic communication would be the largest influence with new emerging technologies on the future of Landscape Architecture. It was unanimous that the graphics coming out of the University of Tennessee’s MLA program were unmatched from any in the region. If I wanted to focus on the future of Landscape Architecture, I should go to a school who focused on pushing the field forward. I’m glad I chose UT.
Do you have any mentors in your professional life?
Hal Clark and Randy Caldwell. Two career landscape architects who are truly passionate about their work and about the communities they work in. Any time I face a new challenge or opportunity, they take the time to help me consider my options. They’ve always encouraged me to follow my passions and have given me countless hours of their time to talk professional strategy. I value their dedication to the field, to personal growth, to their strength in mentorship, and their ability to adapt. I've been blessed with the abundance of influence, independence, and opportunity these two men have given me.
What’s your favorite place and why?
My dad is a carpenter, and I would go to work with him most days growing up. A client of his, Minda, introduces herself as a gardener, and that her garden is an extension of herself. It pushes past the white wood picket fence she originally built, and into the woods behind her house. She’s hidden all these figurines that hang between the trees, beneath the branches, scattered about the ground. She prioritizes the animals she sees, making sure they have a rounded diet of leftovers from her garden. I’ve never met someone so in touch with every square inch of the land. The local elementary school tours her garden several times a year to see it as the seasons change, in the way I got to see it growing up. It won’t be there forever, but it will be in my memory. This is my favorite place.