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Newsletter | May/Jun 2018

Volume 46:3 | Search

If you would like to see corrections to this newsletter or to submit articles or suggestions for future newsletters please contact the Newsletter Editor at newsletter@owa-usa.org.

In this issue:

Member Spotlight :: Helen Vasquez

by Helen Vasquez    |    Share #1283


We spotlight a different OWA+DP member for each newsletter. This time, we hear from the lovely Helen Vasquez, one of the of the OWA+DP steering committee and this year membership/info admin.

Photo Credit: MH Architects


1. What book has changed how you look at the world and why?

A book that I always seem to go back to is “The Cellist of Sarajevo” by Steven Galloway. What resonated with me is the powerful voices each character had whether it be through actions, inaction, emotions, fear, etc. One key topic that I learned from this book is that there are three types of people in the world when under extraordinary circumstances:
1. Those who will become frozen, numb, and unwilling to move when face with fear.
2. Those who will flee the scene, perhaps selfishly, in order to survive or deny what they just saw happen to others.
3. Those who will fight, helps others, and take risks without hesitation or fear that something will happen to them.
I find myself asking: what kind of person will I be?

2. How has someone’s mentoring made a difference in your life or career?

A mentor is very important in someone’s life. It can help one gain the confidence and determination to reach one’s goals that once were thought as unattainable. Someone who is genuinely there for you, supporting, and reassuring your decision making can make a huge impact in your life and career. At least for me, it has made it easier for me to establish and reach goals because I know that I will have someone always rooting for me and reminding me of my goals in times when I forget why I'm doing it in the first.

3. What is your next big goal for yourself, personally or professionally?

My current goal is to finish the ARE exams. I'm halfway there and determined to continue until I pass all 6! Once that is done, (I will have to take the California exam, but once that's over), I will re-evaluate my career and see what the next goal will be.

4. In a parallel life, what would be your line of work and why?

Ever since I was young, I always admired those TV/movie characters that were geniuses and invented all these cool gadgets! in spy movies especially, seeing these inventors know exactly how to create that something just after someone describes the idea made me so happy. Did anyone ever watch Alias? Yea, I always wanted be that character.

5. What has changed since you started in your field?

I feel like I know less! Does that makes sense? There's been so much that I've learned and still learning - new information just doesn't stop. I've been with my company for 7 years now, growing, understanding, and absorbing everything that I can, but knowledge is so powerful that it sometimes makes you feel like you will never get to the end. Knowing that and admitting that you don't know everything is a humble experience. There's a vast of information that I'm still learning which will keep me on my toes for a long time.

6. Has your career path been shaped by being a woman, and how

I've had many women mentors along my life whether it be through school, dance, family, etc. It's always been the backbone of everything that I've done and always gravitate towards empowering women. I think in a subconscious level, I've done things with the hope to show other women that we will not be limited by the societal boxes and cookie cutter ideas they put in front of us. I've always had the go-getter mentality and I am not about to stop now.

YAX scholarship award ceremony

by Maryam Moayery Nia    |    Share #1282


YAX’s constituency is San Francisco public high school students. Youth from any SFUSD high schools can join, representing over a dozen schools citywide. The majority come from the OMI/Excelsior neighborhoods, with 6 different first languages, and diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
In 2018, OWA-DP generously provided a $1,000 scholarship to one of the student, Naomi Hawksley, based on her great skills.
The award ceremony took place on May 16th at Lick Wilmerding High School. Helen Vasquez from OWA steering committee attended the ceremony to present the award to Naomi.

From left: Helen Vasquez, Naomi Hawksley,


Interview with Naomi Hawksley, YAX Scholarship awarded

by Naomi Hawksley    |    Share #1269


Naomi Hawksley

Tell us a little bit about your background.
I grew up in San Francisco in a residential part of the city, and spent most of my life focused on the more academic aspects of my education. For a long time, I didn’t really know what I was interested in, so I spent a long time dipping my toe in afterschool activities like sports teams and performance-based forms of art making.

What are your general interests and goals in design?
I plan on studying painting and printmaking, but in general I want to be able to find a balance between the aesthetic and conceptual aspects of my work. I want to have an easily accessible toolbelt of skills in many mediums that I can easily manipulate in service of an idea. That, and more easily accept the changes work can go through during the process of making it. I find that I have a hard time letting go of what I once wanted for a piece.

Naomi's project sample


How did you come to design? And why did you decide to study this field?
Among the many activities I dabbled in outside of school, I found that I especially gravitated toward art classes. At first, I thought it was more of a hobby. Coming from a conservative Asian family, art as a career is typically frowned upon, but I thought it was a great way to pass the time and organize my thoughts. However, my experience attending an intensive arts program at CalArts called CSSSA would redefine my outlook on artwork as a valid career choice. Until that point, I had never actually seen artists teach and sell their own work to get by; it made me realize that a career in the arts was even feasible. I must also admit that it was, for lack of better term, pretty magical being surrounded by other creatives, peers and teachers alike, for an entire summer. Unlike the largely competitive environments in my academia, the CSSSA community was supportive and inclusive through and through.
After attending this program, I knew that art was something I wanted to take seriously, and I began participating in more programs outside of school and assisting in various studios. I want to further my skills in art school to immerse myself in the artistic community, to challenge my perceptions of the world, and hopefully do the same for whoever sees my work.

Naomi's project sample


Naomi's project sample

What have been the challenges in this process as a woman?
I feel that when people see me standing with my work, their first observation of the piece is that it’s very feminine. I don’t really know what that means, but I don’t think they’re really saying anything about the work- only about who has made it. I think people have a hard time seeing past the fact that whatever work was made by a woman, that the scope of it is then lessened, like the female lens is more limiting than any other.
In the classroom, however, I think dynamics are really shifting in a positive direction. A lot of the arts classes I’ve taken have had a female majority. Young women today are being told that they are just as capable as everyone else, and I feel like we are taking advantage of the opportunities presented to us more than ever before.

How did you hear about the scholarship and how did you feel when you heard you are nominated for that?
I heard about the scholarship at a Youth Art Exchange faculty meeting. When I got nominated I was pretty pumped, and was really excited about the writing aspect of it. In school, there aren’t many opportunities for such subjective writing, let alone topics of feminism and the importance of women in the art world.

How do you see your future in design field and specifically as a women in this field?
I hope to become a participant in the field whose work is viewed beyond the lens of “made by a woman”- my work aims to broaden one’s scope of vision, after all. I want to contribute to the artistic community, and support small, local artists as others have done for me.

Upcoming event :: # Me Too& You, Register now!

by Bridget Basham    |    Share #1285


Presented by Organization of Women Architects + Design Professionals, together with the AIA East Bay & hosted in GouldEvans' new event space. Generously sponsored by DunnEdwards Paint Company

Join professional women, colleagues & featured guests from the Bay Area in a facilitated conversation by OWA+DP's Spring Freidlander, surrounding the following topics:

• Celebrating male champions of change
• Stories of Harassment opened by Poet/ Singer/ Songwriter Melissa Jones
• Resources for disrupting an entrenched workplace culture

Featured guests to help ground the conversation to take place over lunch. Attendees will be invited to express themselves with color provided by Dunn-Edwards, helping to produce a mapping of the discussion throughout the day.

Please register for this FREE event here!

Sign up for 2018 Retreat!

 Share #1286


Celebrating the Legacy and Community of OWA+DP, 21-23 September 2018, at Westerbeke Ranch, Sonoma, California.

Mail your check with the form to
Heather Sprague, 154 Portola Drive Apt 3, San Francisco CA 94131
or Register online here!

ACE Mentoring award ceremony

by Maryam Moayery Nia    |    Share #1280


The ACE (Architecture. Construction. Engineering.) Mentor Program of America, Inc. (ACE) helps mentor high school students and inspires them to pursue careers in design and construction. Their mission is to engage, excite and enlighten high school students to pursue careers in architecture, engineering, and construction through mentoring and to support their continued advancement in the industry.
In 2018, OWA-DP generously provided a $1,000 scholarship to one of the student, Cindy Li, based on her great skills.
The award ceremony took place on May 16th .Cameron White, Rachel Slonicki and Conyee Chan from OWA steering committee attended the ceremony to present the award to Cindy.

from left: Conyee Chan, Cindy Li, Rachel Slonicki , Cameron White



Past Event :: Book Talk with Christie Coffin

by Maryam Moayery Nia    |    Share #1275


Thank you all for coming to our wonderful book talk with Christie Coffin! Special thanks to Laurel Bookstore, our beautiful host! Everyone enjoyed the amazing talk!

Thank you all steering committee for such a great event, especially Helen Vasquez, Maryam Moayery Nia and Conyee Chan for organizing the event!

Left: Luan Stauss, Right: Christie Coffin







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