Shameen Akhtar

Shameen Akhtar

"I've always been interested in social justice and community organizing, so all the classes I've taken through the certificate have been so informative and so helpful."

CESL Program: Certificate in Civic Engagement and Public Service

Major: Architecture

I’ve always been interested in social justice and community organizing, so all the classes I’ve taken through the certificate have been so informative and so helpful—like Grassroots Community Organizing. It was an amazing class. I’m so grateful for that experience and the people I’ve connected with through it. I was a graphic design intern for UACT, and that was a moment that I saw I was in a community organizing space. As a profession, this is the type of position I would like to find myself in. I see myself leading the trend of designing posters and media around organizing.

It was also interesting to see how teams work. As an architecture major, we tend to think we’re going to be designing and building things, but I think that this experience broadened my view of architecture. We can create something tangible, like a building or it can be a flyer, that designs the way we frame ideas and expressions.

Last semester, in the Design Engagement course, we covered a range of topics and how they related to architecture. I continued to consider the educational and institutional aspects of social justice and how those parts don’t reach everyone or translate to everybody’s experience. This year, in light of the election, I have been thinking about this idea of a sanctuary space and how that needs to exist. There’s been a lot of conversation about sanctuary cities and making safe spaces for everyone where they live. In my future studies, I want to focus on ways that we can create physical spaces that are these moments of sanctuary.