I learned two things from my three years as a junior architect: 1) I love design theory that influences culture and 2) An undergraduate degree in architecture and design wasn’t going to be all that I needed to succeed. My close friend who had taken some architecture classes with me was also searching to get into a more designed focused field. We both felt the same passion for design theory along with critical thinking, but we wanted more than what architecture had to offer. She told me about classes she was taking at the Chicago Portfolio School and encouraged me to research portfolio schools.
That’s when I found an article that spoke highly about the Brandcenter program and the relationships built between peers and professors as mentors. I admired the way it seemed that Brandcenter valued and kept in touch with its alumni. I had found a school that not only spoke to the mentoring I wanted from a graduate program, but that also that felt more like a community of trust and communication and a network of high achieving professionals and entrepreneurs.
When I went to visit the Brandcenter to explore its experience design track, it seemed too good to be true. Being the first college graduate from all past generations of my family, I felt like I had to be brave enough to accept that if this was the right school for me, I needed to commit and succeed. Even if that meant moving away from my family in the Midwest to the unfamiliar East coast.
This has been the most rewarding program for me, not only as a student, but also as a peer, leader, woman of color, and most importantly human being. I not only feel like I have found my calling, I feel like I’ve been through the worst of nights, and I can still wake up every morning with the energy to do it all over again with classmates who teach me as much as the faculty. As graduation approaches, I am sad to leave my peers and professors, but this time I know that graduating will not only grant me a diploma but also an endless supporting network of forward-thinking leaders.
-Belem Medina, experience design track, class of 2019