Earlier this week, while reading Cindy Brown’s excellent site/blog, Girls’ Guide to Swagger, I learned about architect-in-the-making Alicia Ajayi. Alicia’s journey to architecture is inspiring — and I’m especially moved by her quest to participate in the design-build program, CityStudioSTL, to be led this summer by Theaster Gates Jr.,  a prominent artist and social activist. With Cindy’s and Alicia’s permission, I’m reposting Alicia’s guest Girls’ Guide to Swagger blog entry.

Alicia Ajayi

Alicia Ajayi

My name is Alicia Ajayi, and I am a young women just coming into her own swagger. I am a University of Colorado graduate and received my Bachelors in Environmental Design in 2008. After graduation I worked as an Intern Architect for a successful architecture firm in Boulder, CO. I was fortunate enough to work for a woman in a male-dominated industry who taught me that every success she had achieved was due to fierce tenacity and creativity. As my confidence in my abilities, determination and passion continue to grow, so do the risks I take.

While it is nerve-racking, stressful, and totally against my Type A personality to go outside of the box I am taking the time to realize my dreamsand building the courage to chase them with a “by any means necessary” attitude!

I am taking a non-traditional path to becoming an architect. This fall I will be attending Washington University in St. Louis (Wash U) to pursue a Masters in Social Work. I decided to diverge from a strictly architecture driven career and pursue an education in social work to understand how to design healthy, livable and inspiring spaces for under-served populations
specifically in urban areas.

Recently I was accepted into a design-build program entitled CityStudioSTL (Somethingness: Ways of Seeing and Building), which will be led by Theaster Gates Jr.,  a prominent artist and social activist. The intent of the program is to encourage students to think of innovative designs that are directly fueled by the cultural and physical characteristics of the site while providing a positive space for one of the most run down areas in St. Louis. The program will result in a built work in the Hyde Park community of St. Louis.

Unfortunately I will not be able to participate in this program due to the cost to attend the program, unless I can raise some money to do so. Therefore I have launched a fundraiser site to help raise enough money to be a part of this amazing opportunity.

I recently found a quote by Nikki Giovani, a female poet with an abundant amount of swagger, that will not leave my head nor my heart.

“I really don’t think life is about the I-could-have-beens. Life is only about the I-tried-to-do. I don’t mind the failure but I can’t imagine that I’d forgive myself if I didn’t try.”

I know that it will be nothing short of a miracle for me to raise this money in the next few weeks but I am willing to risk failure at the chance of achieving my dreams. Please visit the website and help me to raise $4000 by July 1st!

Swag On Ladies!

Alicia Ajayi