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Through Community Engagement, Co-ops, and Collaborations, Students Katerie Boursiquot & Laura Gómez Embrace the School of Architecture Experience

Katerie Boursiquot (Left) and Laura Gómez (Right)

Northeastern University students Katerie Boursiquot and Laura Gómez are currently in the Master of Architecture program after earning their undergraduate degrees in Architecture, also from Northeastern. Both have embraced their Northeastern experiences to the fullest – taking advantage of internships and co-ops, student organizations and societies, classes and studios, learning opportunities abroad, and collaborations in Ruggles Studio. Katerie and Laura are also recipients of the College of Arts, Media and Design Dean’s Academic and Diversity Scholarship, which supports exceptional academic achievement and diversity in the College.

“Being a Dean’s Academic and Diversity Scholar makes me feel proud to attend a school that supports their students,” said Katerie. “It comforts me to know that my school recognizes the need. I’m also grateful to have the opportunity to study something I’ve always wanted to investigate, under the guidance of Professor Sara Carr and next semester, Professor Jay Cephas.”

“To add to that, being a Dean’s Academic and Diversity Scholarship recipient is what allowed me to take this next step in my education. I’m very proud of being a first-gen college student and now adding a graduate degree to that feels unreal,” explained Laura. “If it wasn’t for this financial help, realistically, I would not have been able to continue my studies at this time. I think it is important for us as a university to recognize the need of students – particularly those from minority backgrounds – and do something about it, like this scholarship does! Not only has it allowed me to continue to explore things I love but it has lifted a huge burden off my shoulders which allows me to focus on my academic work and planning the next steps in my professional journey.”

This semester, both students have been busy in their studio course entitled The Ecological Edge: Landscape Dynamics, Social Justice, and Urban Instability, which is focused on community engagement – with East Boston as the backdrop. It emphasizes the impact that architecture can have on people and communities, and how architects can facilitate these positive changes.

“I have personally focused on community ownership of spaces and their involvement in the design process, especially as it relates to public spaces,” said Laura, who completed a minor in Sociology during her undergraduate studies. “It has been great to be able to utilize my passion for Sociology and my interests in architecture to craft a project that I am not only excited about but that I am learning so much from at each step of the process.”

Courtesy of Laura Gómez. Mockup for a community engagement tool for East Boston to share what the concept of “home” means to them.

“In this studio, we are really looking closely and studying the community before getting into design,” added Katerie. “Of course, this has to do with the timeline we’re given compared to conventional studios in undergrad. This was a big change for me, and I deeply appreciate the opportunity to study this right now.”

For this particular studio, Katerie’s research has examined the social/community infrastructure in East Boston, meaning the infrastructure of educational, food-related, and transportation resources. Katerie is interested in how these resources – or lack thereof – can encourage residents to feel more empowered to utilize or implement changes in the infrastructure around them. As the fall semester comes to a close, Katerie is narrowing the scope of her research to food/food access in East Boston.

Courtesy of Katerie Boursiquot. A map she created for the Studio.

Beyond the studio course, Katerie and Laura, like most Northeastern students, have a lot going on, and have been involved with different groups and activities.

“During my time as an undergraduate (and also now as a grad student) I loved getting involved in various groups and organizations on campus, like our chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students, our SoA Student Advisory Group, and my sorority Omega Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.,” said Laura, who has also been working on some research with one of the School of Architecture faculty member as a Research Assistant.

Katerie has also been involved with student organizations during her time at Northeastern.

“A memorable experience for me has been my time with Freedom by Design,” she said. “From doing park cleanups at Egleston Square to finishing and delivering the benches to the kids at Bird Street Community Center, it was a rewarding and fun way to spend my time.”

Freedom by Design is the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)’s community service program in partnership with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). It uses the talents of architecture students to radically impact the lives of people in their community through modest design and construction solutions. Northeastern University’s chapter of AIAS is active and hosts various events, represents Northeastern at industry happenings, and spark meaningful conversations surrounding the architecture and design fields.

To learn more about the Architecture program at Northeastern, click here.