The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Ashley Dotson '18 Attends the National Organization of Minority Architects Conference

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Ashley Dotson '18 attends the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) National Conference in Houston, Texas as a student participant.

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At the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) National Conference in Texas, the Mayor of Houston speaks to conference attendees, inlcuding Ashely Dotson '18,

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At the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) National Conference in Texas, student participants, inlcuding Ashely Dotson '18, attend a graduate school panel. 

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Ashely Dotson '18 explores the Connections Fair at the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) National Conference this past fall. 

Over one weekend in October, I had the pleasure of attending the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) National Conference in Houston, Texas as a student participant. During the conference I had the chance to attend workshops and lectures as well as network with professionals in the field. This was a great way for me to get introduced to the architecture profession. While we have many professors who are helpful in guiding students interested in architecture, it is often difficult for us to figure out how to accomplish our professional dreams. Unlike our pre-finance and pre-medical counterparts, we do not fit into campus culture and therefore do not have the same abundant resources—we are a minority on campus. Attending the NOMA conference gave me the skills and the confidence to continue to pursue architecture at Dartmouth and beyond, as well as help my peers with similar interests.

One of the major take-aways I learned from the conference was the importance of building a network of peers when you are in a minority community, such as what we have at Dartmouth. To be one of the only students on campus who is interested in a particular field can be overwhelming, especially when you feel alone. However, by coming together we each have the opportunity to share our individual knowledge and learn from each other. This will begin to set us up as successful professionals. I have been working on trying to bring together students who are interested in architecture for this very reason. My hope is that we will all be able to learn from each other’s experiences and begin to build a network of support on campus to inspire and encourage us continue on in the field.

In addition to the suggestion to form a network, I also learned many practical skills and got advice from some of the people I met at the conference. I learned more details about the process of applying to graduate school, and I even had the chance to talk to several people specifically about the track a Dartmouth student would take, and get advice on choosing specific courses that would be beneficial.

I got to sit in on workshops that went over these topics and later speak with the presenters and their colleagues. These included architects who could provide me with information about what skills would be helpful and sometimes necessary to get an internship, as well as graduate school professors, department heads, and admissions directors—many of whom were familiar with Dartmouth’s curriculum. Speaking with them was one of the most incredible parts of the conference for me because they were able to share what they believe to have been some of the most valuable experiences their students had before enrolling, and many of them were able to speak specifically about Dartmouth. Though I am a senior this year and have a limited amount of time left on campus, I was happy to listen and pass along the information to other students. 

-Submitted by Ashley Dotson '18, Rockefeller Center Mini Grant Recipient 

The Rockefeller Center's Mini-Grants program funds registration fees for students attending conferences, as well as the costs of bringing guest speakers to Dartmouth. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Rockefeller Center or constitute an endorsement by the Center.

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