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  • Writer's pictureCamila Altamirano

Doing Architecture in High School

Hi there, my name is Camila Altamirano and I am a rising senior. My field of interest for college is to pursue the world of architecture, if you couldn't tell already. At some point or another, many of us have that moment when we realize what we want to do with our life. As a kid, I knew I needed to do something creative. I had always loved art and in my playroom, I had my little art corner with oil pastels, paint, and colored pencils that I would spend countless hours in, yet wanted to do something different with my creativity. Watching a youtube channel called Mr. Kate, showed me the world of design and how it can be a real job. My parents got divorced when I was in middle school and the only thing I could think about was decorating a second room. As I've traveled the world, I learned what Architecture was and it hit me that it was exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to make people's dreams become a reality.

In 8th grade, we had to sign up for our high school classes. At my school district, Keller ISD, I needed the pick a “pathway” which is basically like a major but in high school. Luckily my district had recently added Architecture, so obviously I choose that one and also added Interior Design. In my district, we have 4 high schools, and some of those pathways classes are held in a different building called Keller Center for Advanced Learners (KCAL). Since we acquire a block schedule, it gives us longer class periods we allow us to have time to ride the bus there and back for one period.

With every pathway, there are set classes you take from freshman year to senior year. As a freshman, I took Principles of Architecture which was the basic level class for both of my pathways. Here I got to learn how to become an Architect, research different colleges, draw, learn basic vocabulary, and eventually get into the software. This was also the year where I did not do the best academically, after that year I decided to do a 180 with my school work. I also decided to do more than my work at school, I decided to be a part of clubs and have a leadership position that taught me how to work in groups to set me in the right direction.

As a sophomore, I took Architectural Design 1(A residential-focused class) & Interior Design 1. My architecture class at KCAL was completely done digitally on Revit, an architecture software, while the other was all about drawing floor plans, picking materials, budgeting, and learning about the architectural three-sided ruler which I had no clue about. Eventually in this pathway, you graduate to a double block, 3-hour class, yay. This meant I had to drop Interior Design to fully “pursue” Architecture. In this class, I met one of my favorite teachers in the world, Jeffrey Taylor. This class was more commercial based, yet in the end, I submitted a residential project and won 2nd in the State! In this class I was able to start perfecting my drawings, becoming more creative in the way I see the world, and learning how to make models which are not perfect yet.

As this class came to an end I knew it was time to get serious about college. I knew COVID strongly affect my freshman-year grades and as I was working to get those up I knew I needed to do more to strengthen my application. I also heard that architecture school was not the easiest and has a massive drop rate that my ego would not let me be a part of and it was mainly because it wasn't what people expected. Toward the end of this class, we had to research architecture firms near us, and that's when I stumbled upon Mel/Arch. No one was told to reach out, it was just to get the easy 100 for the final year slump, but I had done the work so might as well do something with it. That's when I got the opportunity to be a Summer Intern at Mel/Arch Studios. This was also my first job, so I was new to this world. I quickly got a project and learned how to work with a client's needs. While working here I know for sure know Architecture is for me. As I start applying to colleges shortly I will always be grateful to have this experience and work at a close-knit firm, but for now, I have one more year until I graduate high school.

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