Hines College Student Organizations You Should Know: Black Students in Design (BSID)

Opening opportunities for Black students through new UHNOMAS subcommittee

by Symone Daniels • February 22, 2023

Historically, the architecture field has been a white male-dominated industry. Although a small amount of progress has been made, reports show only 2.3% of architects are black. In honor of Black History Month, the Hines College kicks off its student organization profile series highlighting Black Students in Design (BSID), a subcommittee of the UH chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (UHNOMAS). Staff writer Symone Daniels recently spoke with co-founder Marina McCree about the organization’s dedication to supporting and making a difference for the Black student body at the College.

Symone Daniels: When and why was BSID founded/created?
Marina McCree:
 BSID was created by three fifth-year architecture students, one senior interior student, and two sophomore architecture students. The seniors wanted an organization specifically supporting and engaging the Black student body. Davone Morgan and I met with Miya Simmons and Esther Olukosi, who had expressed interest in helping us manifest this group, and started to set the foundation for making this a reality. We reached out to UHNOMAS and suggested a subcommittee called Black Students in Design. The new subcommittee would focus specifically on supporting and uplifting the Black student body by exposing them to the merits of Black designers and providing opportunities to connect with professionals outside the College.

Left to right: Marina McCree, Co-Founder; Davone Morgan, Co-Founder; Esther Olukosi, 2023 Co-Chair; Miya Simmons, 2023 Co-Chair

"It was important for us to create a network and give confidence to our peers, ensuring they know they are not alone in their experiences as Black students."

SD: What is BSID’s mission?
MM: It was important for us to create a network and give confidence to our peers, ensuring they know they are not alone in their experiences as Black students. Through BSID, I met a Black female architect for the first time in my life, and at that moment, I realized how little representation there is in our College and curriculum and also in the field. BSID was a necessary addition to our College. We hope it perseveres forward and continues furthering its reach to make a difference in our under-represented peers' educational and professional experience.

SD: What is your understanding of Black minorities in architecture?
MM: From my understanding, Black presence in architecture is sparse within firms, particularly licensed Black professionals. I see many roadblocks in the field, including the path to licensure, networking, funds, diversity in the curriculum, and work culture within firms. Growing up, I noticed a severe lack of investment in Black communities, so I could not imagine the experiences of Black professionals before me.

SD: How do you bring awareness to BSID on campus?
MM: Like any other group, we bring awareness via our Instagram and posters. However, an essential aspect of spreading information as a new student organization presence is directly reaching out to others and letting them know what we are doing. There is no better way to get someone involved than inviting them now and letting them know you see them.

SD: What is your perspective as a Black woman in architecture?
MM: As a Black woman in architecture, I constantly feel I am on the outside looking in. Sometimes I doubt my abilities, creativity, and resolve because it is hard to visualize myself in a field with little representation or cultural diversity. Thankfully, I have encountered many encouraging and diligent professionals, classmates, and professors passionate about uplifting minority students.

SD: How does BSID help prepare Black students to enter a primarily all-white space?
MM: We have primarily started hosting panel conversations with Black professionals who can share their experiences and tips. 

SD: Why should people join BSID?
MM: People should join BSID to have a community of classmates interested in seeking out opportunities within Houston and building on the initiatives taken by Black designers before us – getting involved in NOMA Houston, attending events in the Third Ward, learning about career paths branding off from architecture, etc.

SD: How do you empower your members?
MM: We empower our members by creating a community of equally driven Black professionals and showing we support and relate to them. We focus on exposure and professional development.

SD: What advice would you give students considering joining BSID?
MM: I recommend pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and being honest about your aspirations in this field. Networking is everything. Find what sparks your interest and dive into it. Find people who work in your areas of interest and put yourself out there.

For more information, please reach out to the BSID Co-Chairs and Co-Founders:
Esther Olukosi – BSID Co-Chair (
Miya Simmons – BSID Co-Chair (
Marina McCree – BSID Co-Founder (
Davone Morgan – BSID Co-Founder (
Jessica Merhav – BSID Co-Founder (
Sarah White '22 - BSID Co-Founder


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