I’m blessed to work with some incredibly talented and dedicated people at Hampton University. Carmina Sanchez and Mason Andrews, with whom I teach architecture, are two of the hardest-working people I have ever known (and that, my friends, is really saying something!).
Carmina, Mason, and I are sincerely dedicated to the mission of our Historically Black College/University (HBCU). We work long hours to help our students master the craft of architecture.
And students in our program have achieved many amazing feats. Much of their success is a result of professors like Mason and Carmina believing in them, working overtime again and again, introducing new ideas and new challenges, and opening doors for them along the way.
My colleagues’ work usually goes under-recognized, although Carmina has won a national-level teaching award from ACSA as well as one (that I nominated her for) from Hampton University. She has also been a national officer of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA) and an international officer of the Association for Computer Aided Design (ACADIA). Carmina runs our thesis program and oversees our digital resources. She’s at school all hours of the night and day.
Mason tends to work non-stop, too. Prior to joining HU, she authored several books (one on Aldo Rossi). She also headed an architecture firm in NYC for many years before returning to her hometown in Norfolk. She felt the tug of family: Her dad, after whom she is named, was once the mayor of Norfolk. He led the effort to found the Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS). I believe he also delivered the first in-vitro baby in the USA and helped fund the lawsuit that ended racial segregation in Norfolk Public Schools. He was a truly remarkable man and passed many exceptional qualities on to his daughter.
Carmina also had exceptional parents who were dedicated to helping others. Mason and Carmina both learned from their parents how to serve others. Not a day goes by that they don’t.
I first met Mason through the Marilyn and Ray Gindroz Foundation. I had asked the Gindrozes to support our department’s travel program and they enthusiastically agreed — providing time and money and even re-writing their foundation’s bylaws to include HU. Mason was the president of their board. (To this day, the three of them travel with our students in the summer as part of the study abroad program that each HU student must complete in order to earn a degree in architecture.)
The year I met Mason, I asked her to consider teaching with us… although I never dreamed she’d accept.
But she did!
And she’s brought so many opportunities to our students. She’s connected us to a number of prestigious scholarships and internship opportunities. She sees possibilities others don’t and makes possibilities where none seem to exist. She typically teaches 1-2 more courses each semester than required, just because she wants students to have opportunities to learn a comprehensive range of subjects.
This usually includes writing for architects and a travel-prep class. One year, it also included courses on construction and solar technologies.
In 2009, she took the lead in getting HU teamed up with Old Dominion University so we could enter the 2011 Solar Decathlon. She co-led the team that constructed a net-zero house. The group hauled their house to Washington DC and reassembled in a handful of days so it could compete (in 10 areas, while being toured by thousands of people every day, for 10 days).
Hundreds of universities all around the world apply for the opportunity, but only 20 are accepted each go around. Our team garnered 14th place overall in its first attempt — which is truly remarkable given the level of resources other universities have.
The Decathlon happens every two years, and HU is competing again in 2013 under the direction of professor David Peronnet who was also instrumental in our 2011 success.
I am honored to work with Carmina, Mason, and David.
And, Dave and I are fortunate to count Mason among our dearest friends. Dave and I can drop by the home of Mason, Bill (her husband), and Alston (their son) any time and find open arms, stimulating conversation, and often a creative meal to boot!
I’ve included photos from the pre-Christmas, drop-by dinner that Dave and I enjoyed with Mason.