Every woman at DC has been encouraged or inspired by another woman in their life - mothers, grandmothers, best friends, design professionals, celebrities, and even characters from literature. Today - International Women's Day – we celebrate the stories of the women who helped make us who we are.
Angie Senko, Architect
My mom has always been very supportive and encouraging. As far as inspiring me to pursue my career, I'd have to attribute where I am today to several bursts of inspiration from classmates, professors, colleagues, friends, and family along the way.
Dawn Houser, Business Manager
My maternal grandmother definitely gave me a great role model when it came to being a mother. She also helped me to understand the importance of hard work, even though she did not work outside the home. She was always a hard worker whether she was working in the garden, canning, or doing other tasks around the home.
Emily Larason, Graduate Interior Designer
My mom never stopped pushing me and telling me to go after what I want. She is and always will be my role model. She is the strong, funny, and loving woman I aspire to be.
Zaha Hadid was a pioneer in the architectural and design world. Being a part of the Deconstructivism Movement, her radical and curvy designs were always pushing boundaries. Her buildings made me excited about design and the endless possibilities of what you could do.
Gaby Mosquera, Electrical Engineer
My grandma Berta encouraged me to get where I am today. She is my mom's mom and basically my second mom. She lived in our house even before I was born, so I lived with her until I was 18 and came to America. She helped raised me and made me the person I am today. She took care of everything – made food for all of us every day (best cook in the WORLD), and sewed every single costume we ever needed. She was always there.
My abue (short for grandma in Spanish), like I like to call her, is the type of person that doesn't let anything get in her way. She is a true fighter and inspiration. At 84, she is the most technological grandma I know (she had a Facebook account before Facebook was cool). You can also find her on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, you name it! She is the brightest light in my life, and I miss her. Every. Single. Day.
Jessica Rossow, Graduate Interior Designer
My best friend Tina has encouraged me always. We've been inseparable since kindergarten and she's always supported me, even when it meant moving 13 hours away from her. Her confidence and fierce loyalty in me has majorly shaped the person I am today and I wouldn't be where I am without her. She's truly the sister I never had.
Katie Briner, Graphic Designer
One of my high school art teachers, Jodie Asplund, helped guide me to the career path of graphic design. I took all the art classes my high school offered, and even did an independent study class with a few other seniors interested in the arts. It was here that Mrs. Asplund introduced me to world of commercial art, which I didn't fully understand was a career path at the time. She recommended me for mini jobs, like painting murals or backdrops for events. What I appreciate most is that she connected me with the historical society of Huntertown, Indiana, so I could work with them to create their official town seal. (It's still in use today!) She allowed me to use her computer after school so I could create the graphic in Adobe Illustrator, which kick-started my knowledge of how to use the program. This would later give me confidence when being introduced to these programs in college because I was familiar with the tools and how the programs worked. While Mrs. Asplund probably feels like she was just doing her job, I feel that she went above and beyond to expose me to opportunities in high that would help me make an informed decision about the university program I chose and ultimately the career that I have today.
Katie Haines, Architectural Intern
My mom has always pushed me to work hard in all aspects of my life, especially my education and professional career. She was the first person in her family to go to college and she had to push to get there and completely support herself along the way. I'm lucky to have had tons of support my whole life, and a mom and family that encourage me to be independent and successful. She's been a powerful and immeasurable role model that I hope to also become one day.
Katie Hiebel, Project Administrator
My good friend, Crystal, has always encouraged me. Since meeting her in elementary school, I have known her to always set the bar high for herself. Even in the face of adversity, she has shown a great deal of determination in achieving her personal and professional goals. Seeing what she has accomplished and what she has her sights set on encourages me to continually push myself to be better, do better, and to be always learning.
Kay Song, Architectural Intern
My mom is the one who always encourages new challenges and advises me other ways to see the problem.
Kelli Warner, Construction Engineer
My mom has always encouraged and supported me in anything that I've wanted to pursue. I am thankful to have her in my life to look up to!
A woman I have looked up to more recently in my career is Holly Hunter from Hamilton Hunter Builders, Inc. She is both career driven, and a mom and wife, and rocks it all!
Kelsey Rowe, Associate Partner & Electrical Engineer
My mom always pushed me to do better and to want more. She had pursued a career in law and worked in a male dominated industry, and never shied away from a challenge. She continues to support me and celebrate my successes.
Going in a different direction, a woman who inspired me is a fictional character. Jo March from Little Women was one of my favorite characters growing up. She is fiery, independent, and career driven. She always followed what she loved, whether society approved or not. I always knew I just wanted to have a job I loved, regardless of what industry it was in.
Kourtney Teegardin, Marketing & Communications Coordinator
My friend Katy Silliman always encourages more for me. As my close friend, she took a chance and hired me several years ago at another workplace. While mixing friends and work can go wrong for some, we worked well together. She taught me new professional skills, and encouraged me to get involved in the community. Now, I have a job that I love, I'm on two nonprofit boards, and help with a few other nonprofit fundraising efforts. Without her encouragement, I would probably still be working jobs that weren’t fulfilling.
There are so many women that have been an inspiration to me. Someone I admired growing up and to this day is Oprah. Every day after school, I watched her show. Despite an adverse childhood, she persevered and didn’t let anything stop her from achieving success. Now, she’s one of the richest women in the world. I can only hope to have an ounce of her drive to achieve success in my lifetime.
Lauren Elliott, Interior Designer
As I’m sure most women would say, my mom is the most encouraging and supportive woman in my life. She’s compassionate, selfless, kind, funny, and tough. Throughout my life, she continually pushes me to never give up and to always expect more. My mom is the first person that I celebrate my successes with and the first person to talk me off the ledge when things get rough. Most importantly, she taught me to always stick up for myself, have confidence, and to always be kind along the way.
Laurie McCartin, Administrative Assistant
My oldest sister Janice has always encouraged me. We came from a challenging family, and my sister took me under her wing. I spent summers and a lot of weekends at her home with my nieces and nephews. I learned a lot about being a patient, kind, caring mother from her. I learned a lot about kids, and most of all, discovered that kids were the best therapy ever. I love kids and have always had kids in my life. There's a joy unspeakable that I get from being surrounded by and involved with the children in my life.
From a professional standpoint, a few years ago, I attended a seminar on the power of the front desk and how important your role is to your company. The woman who led the seminar was inspiring. That was years ago, and it had such a positive impact on the way I see my role.
Lori Duesler, Project Administrator
My mother, Linda Duesler, has always encouraged me. ‘Leap and the net will appear!’ She has always believed in me regardless of the missteps I've made. She nurtured me with love and confidence. I consider myself fortunate to have had a strong woman role model in my life.
Mandy Samudio, Project Administrator
My mom always encouraged me no matter what avenue I went down, and has always been a great support system.
Mariah Olsen, Graduate Interior Designer
My mom is my biggest support. She says there is no dream too big as long as you're willing to work for it. Last week, she sent me this quote and I feel it's fitting – ‘Be humble, yet proud. Be kind, yet firm. Be polite, yet assertive, and always, be yourself.’ There's only one you, so you might as well make the best of your strengths.
My college advisor and professor inspired me to love design. She has a passion unmatched by anyone. As interior designers, we have the power to truly affect the environments of every person each day, and that it not a small role. We need to make the best possible use of the spaces we're given.
Marsha Derbyshire, Construction Engineer
My mom told me in high school that I was going to be successful. It is very vivid in my mind and it impacted my soul. Positive words are very powerful. At that time, I was pursuing interior design, but really wanted to be an architect. Following what you are passionate about is very important to be fulfilled in your life. My mom taught me to follow my passion and put my heart into my life always. Serve people first and you will be successful.
Megan Yoder, Graduate Architect
My mom encouraged me to get to where I am today. I’m sure a lot of women answer this question with "my mom," but I don’t think this should discount the validity of how important a mother is to her daughter. It’s very telling that the most metamorphic character in our lives not only nurtured us from a responsibility standpoint, but also encourages us to become the best versions of ourselves. Every time I am tackling an obstacle, whether personal or professional, it’s my mom that gives me encouragement and guidance. She brings humor to a situation to ease anxiety, points out that I am worthy of pursuing whatever goals I set, and then supports me as I knock them out. The best thing a mom can do to encourage her daughter is to teach her that she deserves to take up space in this world. Now that I am a mother, I aim to do the same for my daughter.
One day in high school art class, we watched a documentary about Maya Lin and her Vietnam Veterans Memorial project and it blew my mind. I had always wanted to be some sort of designer when I was young, but it wasn’t until her story that I actually saw a reflection of someone like myself becoming an architect. Architecture was a profession I genuinely, at the time, didn’t think had any female participants, nor a profession that would “make room.”
Representation for women is such a strong thing, especially in architecture. I sense at the beginning of women showing up in architecture firms, room was rarely “made.” Women had to carve out their own space and, while it was probably the most difficult thing they had to do, now young girls can visibly see that it is possible for them to achieve it, also. I can write for days about this, but this is the ‘short and sweet’ version.
Misty James, Office Manager
Who encouraged me? My mother, of course! She's my Superwoman. I have no idea how she handled it all – raising seven children, taking care of the home, teaching and guiding, volunteering, and she somehow did it all so effortlessly. She taught me the meaning of hard work, discipline, how to be compassionate and humble, and most importantly, how to love unconditionally. There was never a time that she wasn't there when I needed her. So much of who I am today is because of her.
Natalie Patka, Graduate Architect
My late mother was funny, inspirational, and an extremely hard worker who loved learning new things. She taught me that you could learn at any age and to not take everything so seriously. She herself retired from her 32-year nursing career to follow her passion in counseling. I hope I can continue to learn and lead in the way she was able to do.
When I was an interior design intern at another company, I met a lady named Ann Roth. She inspired me to keep going for my architecture degree and even drove down to Ball State to help me look for a place to live. She was always so kind and encouraging.
Rachel Vedder, Architect
My mom has always encouraged me to try new things! That’s how I discovered architecture as a great balance between the technical and detail-oriented aspects of my aptitude, and love of design and creativity. As a child in her household, I was groomed to be independent and confident. She grew up in a family of 12 girls and 1 boy. Everyone had to pull their own weight equally. In our family, all four of us kids were held to the same standard – no matter our gender. I learned how to change a tire and mow the lawn because that’s what was expected of the kids in our household. So when I was interested in architecture – a profession dominated by men – it didn’t seem unusual or uncomfortable to chase that ambition. It still doesn’t. My mom has always been a great sounding board. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized she has mastered the knack of listening without giving advice – through our conversations, I’ll ultimately come to my own conclusion. That has helped me to continually grow and navigate decisions in the hopes of building a happy and loving environment for those closest to me.
Rebecca Martin, Architect
This may be cliché, but it's the truth – my mom encouraged me to get to where I am today. My mom led by example my whole life. She taught me the value of hard work, discipline, diligence, and commitment. She encouraged me to pursue my interests and find a career I would enjoy. She celebrated with me in the victories, and she was in the trenches with me when it was hard to keep going. Even more importantly, she taught me the value of serving others and taking the time to love others well. I wouldn't be who I am and where I am today without her.
Rebecca Welch, Director of Human Resources
Mary Gerard was the VP of HR and my supervisor before coming to DC. She was intelligent, hungry, and humble. Most importantly, she treated people with respect and kindness. I started working with her as an entry level HR Assistant and, under her leadership, I progressed up to a Director. Without those opportunities, I would not be doing what I do today. She helped me see that there is nothing out of my reach if I have the passion and I put the hard work into it.