Hometown: Davis, California
Degree Program: Master of Landscape Architecture '24
Previous Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies, Vassar College
What kind of questions or curiosities did you have when you decided to pursue a degree in landscape architecture?
After spending four years on an insular, liberal arts campus, I became curious about the origins of the landscape I had come to know so intimately. I explored the history of landscape at Vassar College through my senior thesis project and realized my curiosity for landscape history and cultural geography expanded beyond the confines of my campus. I became fascinated by the notion of a palimpsestic landscape, one that reflects layers of ideology, design, and place. I wanted to learn more about narratives of landscape and historical practices in landscape architecture, which led me to the doorstep of this program. I believe landscape architecture and landscape history vitally illuminates our conception of and relation to the environment and consequent ecological impacts. I am excited by alternative narratives of ecological tradition, maintained in Indigenous communities, that offer a counterweight to the current dichotomy between human and ‘other,’ between home and ‘wilderness.’
How would you characterize your design ethos? How has that been adapted since arriving at Cornell?
My interest in historical narratives of landscape strongly influences my design ethos. I am interested in this lineage not from a perspective of historic preservation necessarily, but one of integration between the past, present, and future. Since arriving at Cornell, my design studio and theoretical coursework have opened my eyes to a wide array of landscape traditions and I like to think of my design work as directly in dialogue with the material I am gathering in other courses. I have taken great inspiration from my peers as well!
Are there any other particular courses at Cornell that leverage your interest?
Thus far, I would say Kathy Gleason’s ‘Design of Landscapes’ course has given me an expansive introduction to landscape history, which was what drew me to this program in the first place. I feel so fortunate to have gotten to spend time with her in the classroom. She is a brilliant mind and an all-around lovely person!
Being at Cornell, has living in the Finger Lakes region informed your view on the field, or even broader, the environment?
Being from the Sacramento Valley, a landscape that undulates and reveals its very formation through the exposed bedrock in the gorges has honestly blown me away. I feel so fortunate to be surrounded daily by such rich and compelling landscapes. It has already impacted my design work directly (as I explored regional soil horizons in my last project) and I think to a greater extent it is informing my understanding of landscape seasonality in an unexpected way. Walking to and from the studio on the same path every day has helped me tune in to the shifting environment around me. I notice the Ginkgo on the corner slowly shedding its leaves, the changing of the Red Maples from green to auburn, even the smell of the air every morning as I leave my house shifts as the days get shorter. I would go as far as to say I am excited to see what my first Winter in Ithaca holds in store, though I’ll probably regret saying that come January.
Reflecting on your interests, how did you define/are you defining your concentration in the program?
I am pretty decisively interested in landscape history and this will largely dictate my concentration in the program. However, I am more specifically interested in the intersection of historic narratives of environment within the wider discussion of climate change, cultural geography, and anthropology so I hope to take courses in the Human Ecology department as well as Urban Planning. I am particularly excited to take ‘Ways of Knowing: Indigenous and Place-Based Ecological Knowledge’ at some point in my career at Cornell.
What would you tell your younger self from ten years ago? What would you tell your future self ten years ahead?
I would tell my younger self a couple of key things:
- Be as kind to yourself as the person who loves you the most
- It is ok to have a big imagination
- Don’t cut your own bangs
And to myself in ten years if you’re reading this:
- Kindness is always a strength and never a weakness
- Stick to your guns
- Put the hair trimmers down, you’re 33 years old