Graduate Ambassadors

Our Syracuse Architecture graduate ambassadors are current graduate students who play pivotal roles in leadership by building and facilitating a community within the graduate program. They engage with new and current graduate students, as well as participate in activities to encourage research awareness and innovation; They’re available to answer questions for prospective students about the curriculum, and, more importantly, to share their own personal experiences as Syracuse Architecture graduate students.

Priscilla Almendariz

I’m a third-year graduate student in the M. Arch program. I earned a bachelor of science in architecture from the University of Texas at Arlington with a minor in architecture history. Originally from Texas, I also studied architecture at Skyline High School in Dallas, Texas which is the main reason for pursuing a degree in architecture. Syracuse was my top choice for graduate school because of the thesis option and the opportunities we have to closely collaborate with faculty. My biggest passion in architectural design is that of storytelling through spatial experiences as well as designing at the urban scale. I have always had an interest in volunteering and contributing to the organization at all of the schools I’ve attended. Here at Syracuse University, I’m a part of the Graduate Students in Architecture organization as well as the overall Graduate Student Organization for the three years I’ve been here. I think my school spirit is the biggest reason why I volunteer as a graduate ambassador! I am very passionate about the program and what it has to offer as well as the university as a whole. I really enjoy welcoming students into the program and encouraging prospective students to learn about the school and the programs it offers at the graduate level. In my free time I like to go hiking and I’m a major foodie!

Erin Benken

I am a first year graduate student in the advanced standing M. Arch program. I received my bachelor of science in architecture from Roger Williams University with minors in construction management and historic preservation. The architecture program at Syracuse University was my top choice for graduate schools because of the research that the faculty is doing and the opportunity for students to get involved with their projects. I was also impressed by the rigor of the work done by students in the program and the diverse background of the faculty in the department. I believe earning an architecture degree from Syracuse University will be incredibly valuable to my career in the field and will enable me to think about architecture in new ways. In my free time I enjoy traveling, baking, photography, and spending time with my friends and family.

Christopher Bressler

I received my B.S. in architecture degree from the University at Buffalo (SUNY). Syracuse University interested me due to the changing pedagogy I saw developing through the hiring of instructors from conceptually and theoretically driven universities. I appreciated the blending of an already rigorous technical and building systems oriented curriculum with an experimental research and avant-garde architectural discourse. My primary interests are in architectural enclosure systems, but since entering Syracuse University it has expanded to also include animation, VFX, film, and graphic design. The ability to acquire teaching assistantship positions easily was also a huge draw for me to attend this school. My interests outside of architecture include photography, traveling, and eating!

Nathalie Brock

As a grad student in the M. Arch program at Syracuse University, I have become more interested in expanding my design skills while implementing new technologies. After earning my B.F.A in architecture from Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, I chose to attend Syracuse based on its innovative design strategies and drive for the architecture of the future, as seen in previous students’ work. I was also drawn to the program for the abroad opportunities in the visiting critic studios. I am currently in my first year of the program, with advanced placement into the second-year studio group. I am a TA for the first level undergraduate history class. As a LEED Green Associate, I am interested in sustainable design strategies and focusing on the user’s overall experience. Outside of architecture, I like to spend time outdoors and in the company of friends and family.

Sou Fang

I graduated from the University of San Diego with a B.A. in architecture. I chose to pursue an M.Arch I degree at Syracuse University due to the research and teaching assistantship opportunities that the School of Architecture offers to graduate students. My primary interests are in architectural and urban design strategies in relation to building energy modeling and urban political economy. During my free time, I enjoy golf, tennis, and dance (hip-hop choreography, b-boying).

Doris Xin Ge

I’m a first-year graduate student in M. Arch with a bachelor degree in advertising from Fudan University, Shanghai, China. In my freshman year, I found architecture very interesting and started to auditory some design classes in Tongji University. After experiencing AA Shanghai Summer School, I decided to pursue a graduate degree in architecture.  As a student without design background, I was looking for a school with both theoretical and technical curriculum. Syracuse University had met my every need; it provides varied interesting curriculum. Career is also another important consideration for the graduate program. Syracuse University has great career services which provide helpful career information following a resume to portfolio timeline, as well as tips on different types of interview since the first year. Also, Syracuse has an amazing campus and lots of sports games for architecture students to enjoy when they relax. I’d love to help more prospective students to find their right school and show them the awesomeness of Syracuse University.

Sophie Fraser Hafter

I am a third year M.Arch. student with a bachelors in architecture from the University of Sheffield in the UK. I came to Syracuse because of the opportunities it provided for teaching and research but also the curriculum. I enjoy that the school has a vast range of expertise and an emphasis on grounding your ideas within the context of theory and the current world.  Before coming to Syracuse I spent two years working as a community designer on social housing estates in London and a ski instructor in Switzerland so I love the snow and skiing that is around Syracuse! 

My interests within architecture are focused around community development, designing from the users perspective and looking at how politics informs the built environment both locally and city wide. I feel that my education here as Syracuse is not only relevant for the US but worldwide. With such a diverse faculty and student body we as students are being educated in the forefront of architecture which will lead to us exciting careers both in the US and internationally. 

Stephanie Haller

I’m a first year graduate student in the advanced standing program at Syracuse. I earned a B.S. in architecture and a B.S. in architectural preservation from Temple University. Being a tour guide at Temple inspired me to become a graduate ambassador at Syracuse because I enjoy welcoming prospective students to the university’s program. After my undergraduate studies, I took time to gain professional experience and worked at a small architecture firm in Philadelphia. Having lived in Philadelphia and studied abroad in Rome really inspired me to look at the bigger picture of architecture, learning about urban planning, policy, sustainable design and how emerging technologies can improve the multi-disciplinary field. I continued to pursue architecture because it is a well-rounded education of art, science and the humanities.

I chose Syracuse because of the abundance of research and teaching opportunities as well as the diversity in the faculty’s expertise. Here at Syracuse, I am also fortunate to be a part of the Graduate Students in Architecture organization and am a research assistant for the Performative Praxis Lab (PPL). In my free time I enjoy running, reading, travelling and exploring new foods!

Ashley Lynn Nowicki

I am a first year M. Arch student, with a B.S. in biology, and a minor in psychology.  I chose to pursue this degree at Syracuse University because of the range of faculty, the welcoming environment at the University and the opportunities available for people who wanted to be more involved in either the architecture community or traveling abroad during graduate school. Hopefully through being a graduate ambassador, I can ease the tensions I had coming from a non-architecture degree for other prospective students! During my free time I enjoy spending time with my friends, running, reading, and traveling.

Sebastien Simonnet

I am a third year graduate student with an undergraduate B.S. in architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I began my undergraduate studies in civil structural engineering and then transferred into architecture. Therefore, when it came to choosing a graduate school, I wanted a program that would provide a pedagogy and curriculum I had not yet experienced. At the University of Illinois the curriculum was technical- and building systems-oriented; with this foundation of knowledge I became very interested in continuing my studies in a more research-based and theoretical environment. I chose Syracuse University because of this rigorous but exciting course work and research. Syracuse provides exposure to faculty and ideas on the cutting edge of architectural design and thinking.

Upon visiting Syracuse, and speaking to then current students, it became clear that this was an environment where I would be able to challenge conventions and explore alternative architectural realities while still having to occasionally ground them within our present reality—a collaboration in research that occurs not only inside the studio, but also made available to graduate students in support of faculty research. The School offers students roles of leadership and responsibility in regards to both undergraduate students and faculty.

Of course, what comes with pursuing a graduate degree is a lot of studying and work. Nevertheless, what has been passed on to us, and what we as a group try now to pass on to those who follow, is our sense of community. As a group of architecture graduate students across the years we spend many weekend nights together, finding it imperative to find time to sit back and relax in support of each other and our own mental health.

Zexi Tang

Growing up in a family of architects helped to cultivate my interest in architecture design. I spent three years studying architecture in Australia and earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture design. Upon participating in all the Australian “Open” days—when famous, well-designed houses and buildings are opened to the public—I observed and admired all the masterpieces and was inspired by their distinctive forms and structural rhythm. The concept of form following function motivated me to explore architecture at a deeper level.

In the past few years here, I’ve learned about the beauty of spatial distribution of Japanese houses, experienced the perfectly conserved historic buildings in Europe, and witnessed the evolution of architecture. The miracle of American architecture is what I hope to discover. Syracuse University is one of the top universities in architecture field. An atmosphere of study is highly encouraged. One of my friends who I truly admire graduated from Syracuse University. The knowledge she received is what I am pursuing. I am convinced that the advanced training I am receiving at Syracuse will contribute greatly to my qualifications and professional development.

I am interested in photography. The Syracuse campus really provides me the opportunity to take good photos!

Shihua Xuan

I am a second year student in M.Arch program at Syracuse. I enrolled in Northwestern Polytechnical University in China to start learning about architecture. Syracuse University was my top choice after viewing curriculums and student work online when I decided to study aboard. In studio, in which I am most interested, we are given the tools we need to help us grow in professional knowledge, to acquire multiple thinking perspectives, to view architecture work, and aim towards developing new methods and tools for later architecture work. We are highly encouraged to value any possible chances for practices such as internship or tutorial project, which improve our understanding of architecture, allow us to hone our abilities in the field, and to broaden our horizon and enrich our mind as well. During my spare time, I like cooking, outdoor activities and share opinions with friends.