When you are setting off on a journey to navigate the road less traveled, you sometimes land right back where it all began. Dusty, an avid traveler, is used to exploring parts unknown. You can find her climbing mountains in France, walking the streets of Italy, or hiking trails in Colorado on her Instagram Page.
But it was her journey into architecture that became the uncharted territory that suddenly felt like home for Dusty. An architect in central Florida, she arrived happily at this destination through her work in the education sector of her firm, BRPH. For Dusty, her journey began in early education right under the roofs of schools much like the ones she builds today. She reminisces, “It all started with a passion for drawing, painting and a teacher that led me to a guidance counselor that helped me put two and two together. Art was my life and math was my second favorite subject. It really was that simple.” And although putting the pieces of Dusty’s career goals together came easy, the work getting there was not. “I was the only girl in my drafting classes in high school, and I couldn't wait to start my architecture classes at Ball State. There were numerous times after receiving criticism that I would question whether architecture was meant for me and if I chose the right career."
Fortunately, the many obstacles she faced did not stop her from achieving her goals and now she finds joy in a profession that she knew was always meant to be. “There's nothing more rewarding than seeing students arrive at their new school for the first time in the Fall…their faces light up in awe,” Dusty recalls. But that’s not the only reward for her work well done; one of Dusty’s first projects, an Elementary School, where she worked as the architectural designer alongside the Architect (another female architect!), received accolades in the award winning publication, “Learning by Design.” It was recognized for areas in Educational Architecture that include: Innovation, 21st Century Learning, Community Needs, Sustainability and Functional Design. "I find inspiration in designing schools because I essentially have a hand in shaping our youth”, Dusty explains.
In addition to building schools, Dusty also volunteers with Florida Foundation for Architecture in Education’s program. It provides an eight-week, curriculum-enrichment program that matches professional architects with classroom teachers in Florida. Through the program, she sharpens 4th and 5th grade students’ math, social studies, art, and other core academics using real-life, project-based learning.
With many girls participating in the program, Dusty finds herself back where it all began, encouraging them the same way she was. “It has been a journey of highs and lows, celebrations and tears, and stressful months of testing, but I DID IT!”