Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Undergraduate School and Major: University of Colorado, Denver, College of Architecture and Planning; Architecture
Program: Bachelor of Science in Architecture
In our Student Q+A’s we profile the students of the University of Colorado Denver’s College of Architecture & Planning (CAP). We sat down with Mohamad Zaina, a student in the CAP program who will graduate in 2022 with a Bachelor of Architecture degree. We find out more about his background, what attracted him to the CAP, his breakthrough moments during his education, and plans post-graduation.
Tell us a little bit about why you chose the CAP and what your experience has been like?
Initially, I visited Colorado to see my family, and never had the intention of staying. I saw the snow, and everything else just unraveled in front of me. I suppose I got lucky because I was able to find a place like the CAP. Not only is it the only accredited architecture program in Colorado, but it is also located in an ideal setting that allows for networking to be made seamlessly. I have come to meet many incredible individuals that have had a considerable impact on my life. The CAP staff makes it an enjoyable experience where growth is encouraged.
Did you have any “breakthrough moments” during your education experience? If so, what were they and when did they happen?
My educational experience has been fruitful as I always try to find the positive in everything that I do/happens to me. During the Fall 2020 semester in my Design Studio II course, I was fortunate to be under great instructors who helped me push through standard conventions. I learned to detach myself from my work yet still be able to make it personal and relatable to anyone who views it. Another exciting moment happened over the summer and into the Fall 2021 semester, when I won second place in a portfolio competition!
How have you grown since coming to the CAP?
The CAP has been a hub for information, comfort, and growth. It has allowed me to connect with locals in the field to understand better what I am getting myself into. The staff is very qualified to help students feel sure about the decisions and steps to move forward in their educational and professional endeavors. The CAP is limitless when it comes to growth. Many events and activities happen year-round that encourage students to break out of their shells to learn about different disciplines and the field in general. I love meeting new people, which has allowed me to make good friends and friends who can help me in times of need. I would be arrogant and ignorant if I said that I had achieved academic excellence all on my own. And for that, I am grateful to everyone who has tagged along on my journey!
What does life after the CAP look like for you?
There is never certainty in life. Whether it was building a model, I could never accurately judge myself on how much time I will need. Though that may be due to a lack of knowledge and/or experience, I would either under- or over-estimate the time I needed to finish a task. Working backward from my goal of becoming a licensed architect, I plan on finishing my graduate studies and ultimately would like to work my way to refine my skills to become a well-developed architect.
What opportunities at the CAP are there for students to connect their designs to real-world issues?
There are many student organizations that students can get involved with. First, the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) hosts architecture-related events that I would personally encourage everyone to partake in. Within AIAS, Freedom by Design (FBD) allows students to volunteer in designing, testing, building, and delivering projects for clients. This is a free program that anyone can be part of for however long they’d like to. You can also earn AXP hours with FBD. Other organizations are also present like National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS), All for Women in Architecture (AFWIA), American Planning Association Students (APAS), American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), WTS Colorado Student Chapter, Students for Classical Architecture, and others based on interests.
Do you plan to continue to be a part of the CAP community? If so, how?
Absolutely! Not only do I like to stay active, but I especially love supporting the community that housed and shaped me into the individual I am now. Through new programs like the one around mentorships, I plan to stay on top of it all by following social media platforms and staying in contact with the staff. I also plan on being active by attending guest lectures and being a critic of student presentations. I want to give back to the community that took me in!