Architecture as a Problem-Solver:
MAF Scholarship Recipient
Jo-Elisa Clarke


Jo-Elisa Clarke has wanted to become an architect since she was six years old. “Being raised by a father who loves construction and a mother who enjoys interior design, it felt like architecture brought those two worlds together,” she said. With help from a 2022 MAF scholarship, Jo-Elisa is on her way.

Jo-Elisa, a graduate architecture program student at Andrews University, is the 2022 winner of The American Institute of Architects Scholarship. MAF’s scholarship judges noted her excellent portfolio, great academics, and potential architectural skills led to this award.

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunity provided by winning this scholarship. It reminded me not to give up and work even harder to make my dream career a reality.”

What is Jo-Elisa enjoying most about her architectural degree program? “I appreciate the problem-solving aspect of architecture, she says. “A building is like a 3D puzzle that takes a lot of creativity and effort to provide a functional and beneficial place for its users. I love that architecture helps others and it has the ability to make the world a better place, and how buildings can be sustainable and offer comfort to its users with its design.”

As part of the MAF scholarship application, students must include a personal statement describing their interest, experience and future plans related to architecture, as well as information on their leadership and extracurricular activities. Jo-Elisa likes to volunteer in grow groups and freedom by design projects, which include building affordable homes with the freedom by design group, particularly those that benefit children. (Post-graduation, Jo-Elisa would prefer to design mixed-use buildings and affordable residential projects).

Jo-Elisa also has been in leadership roles with NOMAS (National Organization of Minority Architects – Student Chapter), AIAS (American Institute of Architects – Student Chapter), and TAU Sigma Delta. This school year (2022-2023) she is the vice-president of TAU Sigma Delta and fifth-year representative of NOMAS.

Students must also submit a personal portfolio with their application. Jo-Elisa submitted some hand drawing/drafting of buildings she designed for her undergraduate degree program, including a mixed-use design proposal for Chicago’s West Loop; two projects she did for her home country of Belize; residential designs; and a variety of model-making and other projects that demonstrate her design ideas (you can view examples of Jo-Elisa’s project work on her personal website,

How does Jo-Elisa think architecture enriches life? “By designing sustainable buildings, we will ameliorate the overall well-being and health of users and their environment,” she says. “Designing proper buildings will also give dignity to its community and users which will result in life enrichment.”

(images, top to bottom: Jo-Elisa; an image from her portfolio; Jo-Elisa presenting some of her architecture student work)