An architecture student builds her future at UWM

After completing her undergraduate degree at Ball State University in Indiana, Emily Newton decided it was time to try a new state. Being accepted as a teaching assistant was icing on the cake when she pursued her Master in Architecture degree at UWM. Recalling the help from a special professor, Newton shares how UWM provided real-world experience and prepared her to graduate in May.

Why UWM?

I was looking to get out of state and wanted a bigger city to work on projects that could actually influence the city that I live in. Plus, I did my undergraduate degree at Ball State University and wanted to try something new. Another huge factor was being accepted as a teaching assistant at UWM. I hope to teach in the future and UWM provided me with an introduction to that.

Did a professor make an impact on you?

Carolyn Esswein (Department of Urban Planning and director of Community Design Solutions) is the chair of my thesis committee and taught me how to think about designing not just on a building scale, but on a neighborhood and city scale as well. Yet, she will also get students thinking of the details, down to what type of flooring will be in a particular room. If I had to name one thing that sticks out, it’s her confidence and how she carries herself. I hope to one day be as poised as she is.

What appealed to you about urban planning?

I took three courses in urban planning and I think it’s something all architecture students should do. Sometimes architects get too caught up in the details and need to remember designing on multiple scales is a valuable ability. Being able to go from the micro details to the macro full picture and seeing how your building influences the city or the vitality of the neighborhood is important.

What was a favorite project to work on?

I am working on my thesis, focusing on the Westown neighborhood, where the new Milwaukee Bucks arena will be built. The building that I chose to design was a combination of a practice center for the Bucks and community wellness center. I am trying to figure out who will live in this neighborhood, what their spending power will be, what kind of stores and amenities they want for the next 20 years. And then, of course, I have to figure out the architecture style.

Can your ideas become reality?

I met with the president of the Bucks, but unfortunately they already have plans for this area. I tried to get in there as fast as I could to make this a reality, but everything happened so quickly. The ideas and concepts could definitely still be implemented, but it’s moving so fast.

What will you take from your experiences at UWM?

I was able to really develop my personal skill set. I have honed the skills I learned as an undergrad and can better communicate my ideas. I also discovered what I am looking for, such as working for a smaller firm. I don’t know if I would have known that before coming here.

What are your thoughts after graduation?

I am planning on traveling for a couple of months. No job yet, but I know that I want to live in Indianapolis and work with a firm that does projects within the neighborhood they are located. The idea of working for a firm that cares about its community is most appealing to me.

Do you have advice for new students?

From a teaching assistant’s perspective, I would suggest that you be confident in your opinions and decisions. Part of growing is making mistakes, but just because you are inexperienced doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re talking about. This is your time to figure out your life and push those boundaries.

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