"There are many teens with the talent and skills to choose a career in design, but the information to encourage and guide them is often lacking," says Susan Piedmont-Palladino, director of Virginia Tech's Washington-Alexandria Architecture Campus.
Enter Brittney Sooksengdao, daughter of refugees from Laos. Now a graduate student at Virginia Tech, Sooksengdao is working to change that with the Architecture Creation Club, a mentorship program for high school students interested in architecture, design, urban planning, and environmental engineering.
"The more high school students who have access to design-based problem-solving and programming, the more students are likely to feel enabled to continue pursuing design-based professions," Sooksengdao says in a press release.
Sooksengdao and the ARCH team are using a grant from the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology to connect high school students with current Virginia Tech students, who have access to waived college application fees, micro-scholarships, and professional development.
"Most of us had some kind of exposure to architecture sometime in high school or middle school," Sooksengdao says. "This really changed our trajectory and choice of profession."
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One of the most significant challenges to social entrepreneurship and innovation is ensuring a diversity of approaches and participants in the movement. To truly deliver meaningful social change the leaders of the effort must share perspectives of the challenges faced by communities across the U.S. that can most appropriately come from members of those communities. Ashoka, through its All America initiative seeks to increase the diversity of social entrepreneurship practitioners.