Rebecca (Becky) Gladd first realized she wanted to be an architect in her freshman year of college. “I grew up flipping homes with my father, doing renovations and learning various aspects of house design hands on,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be in the built environment industry and combine my creative side with my technical, practical side, as I have an aptitude towards math and how things are put together.”
She continues, “I enrolled at University of Detroit Mercy as an architectural engineering student, planning to be an engineer. I fell in love with design during my fundamental architecture classes, and enjoyed the process and how it connects with people. From there, I decided I wanted to be an architect and adjusted my career path accordingly.”
Becky, currently a graduate student at UDM, is the 2023 recipient of MAF’s Paul Stachowiak & Integrated Design Solutions Scholarship. The MAF Scholarship Jury cited Becky’s commitment to integrated practice with engineering, active mentorship, and impressive references among the factors in selecting her for the award. “Winning a MAF scholarship has helped ease the pressure of working and taking a full course load to make sure my tuition was paid. That extra time is being spent focusing on my thesis.”
In the process of completing master’s degrees in both architecture and civil engineering this year, Becky noted that among the things she enjoys most at UDM are the small classroom size and the faculty. “(at UDM) You are not just another name on a roster. Faculty want to make sure you are successful academically and professionally, without compromising your personal life. I also enjoy the ability to double major, which would have been so much harder without the support of my professors.”
As part of their MAF scholarship application, students must include a personal statement describing their interest, experience and plans related to architecture, and information on their leadership and extracurricular activities. Becky stated that post-graduation, she plans to become licensed within the next five years, and continue to learn and grow as an emerging designer and future architect. She adds, “I often find myself in leadership roles within group projects, whether helping with coordination, making decisions collectively, helping others with their workload, or establishing clear communication. These traits have been helpful not just at school but also in my church’s young adult group.”
Scholarship applicants must also submit a student portfolio. Becky included uplevel studios, as well as medium explorations she has completed over the years, ranging from theoretical to integrated projects, and public integrated design projects.
In her free time, Becky enjoys outdoor recreation activities including hiking and wakeboarding, reading, and spending time with loved ones.
Michigan Architectural Foundation’s mission is to advance awareness of how architecture enriches life. How does Becky think architecture enriches life? “I love that architecture connects people and has a direct impact on their moods, lifestyle and lives. It is where people do things – a building is never just a building.”
She continues, “Architecture can make life easier, from the way a floorplan is arranged to make spaces more functional and create ease of access; to its ability to draw out emotions, create ambiance, and heighten experiences. In their essence, buildings provide the shelter and structure that holds space for humans to be just that: human, with all that it entails and more.”