Pursuing a Worthy Future

Hines College graduating students share their personal experiences

by Symone Daniels • May 15, 2023

Congratulations to the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design Class of 2023! This year’s graduating class had quite an academic experience, especially as they navigated the global COVID-19 pandemic, an unwelcome interruption to their education. They saw the challenges of a changing world and successfully persevered to the end.

The Hines College is proud of this year’s top graduates, serving as banner bearers at the May 12th commencement ceremony.

The Class of 2023 may have questioned their paths at times, but their deep commitment to making a difference in the built, social, economic, political, and global communities we share inspired them to continue and overcome the trials they faced.

Their families also made significant sacrifices so they could pursue higher education. At the Hines College’s May 12th commencement ceremony, family members from across the world – including, Egypt, Lebanon, Italy, and Vietnam – traveled to the University of Houston to celebrate this momentous achievement.

Many of our graduates shared their personal stories to encourage others on their journeys.

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Bachelor of Architecture

Originally from Vietnam, Phillip came to the United States with the desire to create a better life for himself. During his freshman year, Phillip tragically lost his mother. The emotional distress of her death was very difficult for Phillip as he navigated his studies. Although his mother could not be physically present at graduation, we hope she can see the incredible milestone he has achieved.

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Bachelor of Architecture

Kassidi Yosko experienced the loss of loved ones throughout her time as a student. The deaths of her older brother, mother, and close friend brought Kassidi much grief and depression during her educational career. However, Kassidi decided she could not let anything keep her from going after the career she had dreamed about since she was eight years old.

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Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design

In 2019, Kamiel moved to Houston from the Ivory Coast of West Africa to study industrial design. Although showing a passion for design at a young age, Kadmiel was told that he did not “have the natural predisposition” – yet he did not let this stop him. Kadmiel pushed forward. Like many of his peers, Kadmiel faced the realities of paying for school.

He overcame this challenge through the support and sacrifices of his parents, applying for scholarships, the support of close friends, and, yes, even bargaining with the bursar’s office. Today as Kadmiel ends his senior year as President of the Student Council, he share his own words of wisdom: “It is possible to start ugly and end as a reference.”

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Bachelor of Architecture

After moving from Guanajuato, Mexico, to the United States almost eight years ago, Mary is graduating at 27 years old. While living in Mexico, Mary began her college career, but once she moved to Houston, it was like starting over for her – she had to learn a new language and adapt to a very different culture. Although Mary applied to the Hines College in 2018, she was not admitted. However, since she was admitted to the University of Houston, Mary took the opportunity to enroll in art classes to help strengthen her architecture portfolio.

When it came time to reapply the following year, Mary was accepted. She credits being a part of the AIAS student leadership for pushing her to become a better student, person, and leader. Mary studied architecture because she wanted to help others have accessible, affordable homes.


Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design

Growing up, Sarah did not think college was attainable for her. At age 12, she suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with Lupus and mild cognitive dysfunction. She was also held back two grades in high school due to struggles with dyslexia. Eventually, a cognitive test revealed that Sarah was actually very strong in 3D visualization, giving her hopes of studying industrial design a reality. Sarah chose to study at UH because it is where her doctor was located in Houston.

Although Sarah’s doctor discouraged her from going to college because it could cause stress on her body, she did not let that get in the way of furthering her education. Almost every semester of her time in college, Sarah was admitted to the emergency room from extreme pain and fatigue, but she kept moving forward. Her understanding, caring, and encouraging professors helped her persevere to the end.

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Master of Architecture

The road to get to graduation has not been an easy one for Tarek. He moved from Lebanon to the United States during an economic collapse, a pandemic, and the loss of his grandmother. His motivation for obtaining his master’s degree was to expand his intellectual horizons. While at the Hines College, Tarek was challenged to think outside the box and pursue passions not as well nurtured in his undergraduate career. Working as a teaching assistant, part-time designer at a design-build firm, full-time student, and an active member of the COAD Student Council all took a toll on his mental health.

Nonetheless, Tarek reached out to CAPS and got the help he needed to re-establish his mental and physical well-being and continue pursuing all his passionate activities. Today, Tarek is thankful for the connections he made and the familial relationships he developed during his time at the College, which helped him overcome his challenges.

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Bachelor of Architecture

During her junior year of high school, a field trip to San Antonio sparked Carla’s love for architecture. Having grown up in the small town of Welasco, Texas, Carla was amazed by the high-rise buildings and how architecture has the ability to come to life. Unfortunately, she could not leave her hometown right after high school, so she took courses at a community college, eventually completing a Certificate in Architecture Drafting, an Associate Degree in Architecture Drafting and Design, and an Associate Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies.

By the time she came to UH, Carla was 23 years old. She was at a point in her life where she wanted to continue her education; however, she also wanted to start a family. So, why not do both?! Carla had her first daughter in 2018 and her second daughter in 2022 – all while managing her studies! She says the experience helped give her perspective on how architecture can impact our daily lives and improve the world. She would not have been able to juggle school and family without the support of her mother, who left everything behind to come to support her in reaching her educational ambitions.

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Bachelor of Architecture

Umme decided to pursue architecture because it combines her love for art and science. Although a tough decision, she moved from Bangladesh to the United States alone in 2018. As an international student without experience or knowledge in architecture, Umme had to learn how to adjust to her new environment. Living alone took a toll on her mental health, manifesting as anxiety. She did not want to return to school; however, after visiting her family for winter break, Umme realized how proud her parents were of her pursuit of higher education. She returned to UH with a renewed perspective and mindset. Umme’s advice – “Perseverance is the key to success.”

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Master of Architecture

Raffaella is not a typical graduate student at the Hines College. Originally from Italy, she moved to the United States in 1999. Upon entering the UH graduate program in architecture, she held multiple doctorate and master degrees, including a Ph.D. in Geophysics from Princeton University. As a child, Raffaella wanted to become an architect, enrolling in a high school for the arts to start preparing for her future. However, her career took a turn toward her other passion – physics. In 2020, she decided to pursue her first love – architecture.

After an intense professional career, she found it incredibly difficult to slow down as a student, resulting in a more balanced life. She feels her diverse experiences in education and her professional career have prepared her for this moment. As she embarks on a new professional chapter, she hopes to address today’s societal challenges to empower communities, resulting in a built environment that is resilient and equitable.

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