Erika is a 3 Year MLA in her final year of the program.  
1.    What was your undergraduate experience and how did it influence your decision to pursue a MLA?
I studied Neuroscience in undergraduate and was on my way towards medical school until I hit a breaking point and realized I didn't want to be stuck inside a hospital for 10 to 12 hour shifts regularly. While I do miss my scrubs (super comfy- not gonna lie), I wanted to take my science-driven degree and put it towards a profession that could help an even greater number of people than medicine could. I missed the creativity I got to pursue through photography and all the plants I learned through my summer jobs as a gardener and nursery sales associate. Landscape Architecture is the perfect combo of science and design and I'm so excited to enter the profession.
2.    What activities do you pursue outside the school?
I'm involved in multiple local plant groups. It's been a huge help to keep up my knowledge of plants and gives me a break from my screen and make friends outside of school. Other than that, Knoxville has lots of opportunities for biking, kayaking, and hiking that I take advantage of between classes and work. 
3.    Do you have any advice for future landscape architecture students?
Be open-minded, work hard, and maintain your out-of-school hobbies- they'll keep you balanced!
4.    What do you or will you miss about Knoxville?
As someone who has lived downtown for all three years of my MLA, I'll definitely miss the variety of events downtown Knoxville hosts. It's always fun to walk out of my apartment and feel like there is something new to explore or another event to partake in- most of the time I don't even know they're happening until I walk out my door!

5.    How has your perception of landscape architecture changed over time?
I came into this degree thinking landscape architects saw a piece of land and just slapped some plants and paths onto it. After three years, I have come to enjoy the process of design more than anything. UTK has helped me develop a better sense of conceptual design and process-driven results. 
6.    Did you have an internship or externship experience? What did you learn from it/them?
Yes! I've had two. My first was at the Tennessee RiverLine which helped me get a sense of how landscape architects can go beyond our computer-based design skills and implement our skills within our community. It was very rewarding. My second was through Norris Design and I was based out of Flagstaff, Arizona for a whole summer. I learned lots of computer skills that applied my conceptual knowledge to practical situations. I also got to dig into some detailed city code, as Flagstaff has strict planning parameters. 
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