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Leaders of Tomorrow

Compiled by Hailey Bohmaker (Sociology ’21)

Here at the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, we prepare our students to be tomorrow's leaders — in the built environment and in life. We asked some of this year's graduates how they plan to carry those lessons forward into their future lives and careers.

Sydney Nguyen

"Growing up in Oakland opened my eyes to the beauty of diversity and art. It gave me a sense of how people can struggle and prevail. As the daughter of immigrants, I also learned how society gives so much to some and so little to others, which shaped my views of the world. My time at Cal Poly has taught me that if we listen and lift up the voices of those most in pain to be our leaders, even small voices can have influence. I have been learning to lead fearlessly with an open mind and open heart.

Sydney Nguyen imageLeadership means not being afraid to make mistakes or to speak up when something is wrong. We have the privilege to use our platforms to hold ourselves accountable and not be complacent about the status quo. By harnessing all the hard work, values, and skills acquired, we can focus energy onto rebuilding community. When the foundation is broken, we all suffer.

There is a lot to be done, and that can seem daunting, but leaders do not get to lose hope. Leadership is about selflessness and stepping back to trust your team. Leaders motivate others and encourage an experimental mindset for creativity and innovation to follow. Leadership is about actively putting your heart into your community, even if that means putting others' needs before your own fears."

— Sydney Nguyen is a 2020 graduate with a Bachelor of Architecture degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Comparative Ethnic Studies.

Here’s how other CAED students in the class of 2020 described how they plan to lead in the future:

Nicholas Slavin image

“In the structural engineering industry, I hope to lead by example, motivating others through hard work and integrity.”


— Nicholas Slavin, Architectural Engineering
Cal Poly Chapter of Structural Engineers Association of California board member, EERI design lead, Cal Poly Percussion Ensemble and Wind Ensemble section leader

Lindsay Eklund image

“I hope to make a positive impact for social and environmental change through leadership in architecture and performing arts.”


— Lindsay Eklund, Architecture
CAED Chat student correspondent


Zhi Mankin image

“I will lead by pursuing a future in which more peoples, cultures and movements are able to cultivate a collective endeavor for adequate representation, leadership and necessary change. I will lead through interdependent, sympathetic acts, for sympathy necessitates awareness, discourse, understanding and solidarity.”


— Zhi Mankin, Architecture
ADDPub/ and leader in classroom


Ryan Millward image

“I plan to lead by staying involved with the professional portion of EERI. I hope to continue advancements in earthquake engineering in practice and theory.”


— Ryan Millward, Architectural Engineering
EERI Seismic Design team captain, Second Place, 2020 Earthquake Engineering Research Institute Seismic Design Competition


Megan Moloney image

“I plan to lead by being a voice for design justice at my future firm.”


— Megan Moloney, Architecture
CAED Student Council vice president


Avery Spector image

“I plan to lead by building projects that have a positive and meaningful impact on my community.”


— Avery Spector, Construction Management
Associated Students of Construction Management, captain of commercial team, community service representative


Erin Anderson image

“I plan to lead by example by bettering the world that surrounds me through my volunteer work and encouraging others to pursue their passions, like I plan to.”


— Erin Anderson, Landscape Architecture

Brendan Norton image

“As president of Associated Students in Planning I've been fortunate to work with a great group of dedicated and motivated officers. Our achievements this academic year include successfully organized firm tours, hosting impactful guest speakers, and further collaborations between CAED leadership and student body.”


— Brendan Norton, City and Regional Planning
Associated Students in Planning president


Miranda Hassler image

“I plan to lead by pioneering sustainability efforts and making advancements in energy efficiency to ensure the highest level of environmental quality and human wellness in the built environment.”


- Miranda Hassler, Architecture
CAED Chat student correspondent


Urenna Evuleocha image

“I hope to lead by service and example. I love to do what I love and use those skills in all positions that I seek out or hold. When others see you in leadership positions enjoying what you do and thriving, they will not only strive to be better within their own communities, but also will seek out leadership roles where they can excel in and encourage others, especially those individuals who are underestimated and marginalized to do so as well.”

- Urenna Evuleocha, Architecture
CAED Diversity & Inclusion Committee


Kylie Durekas image

“I plan to lead the landscape architecture profession into placing mental wellness at the forefront of design.”


- Kylie Durekas, Landscape Architecture

Lilliann Lai image

“In light of the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, many people are beginning to realize the importance and urgency of human rights and social justice. I plan for my work to inform my leadership in engagement, education and directing people to leaders and causes important to their brothers, sisters and siblings.”


- Lilliann Lai, Architectural Engineering
Team captain of the award-winning 2019 National Timber-Strong Competition, Cal Poly State Capitol honoree


Gavin Griffin image

“In the future I plan on leading by becoming a well-rounded and knowledgeable professional in the industry. I also look forward to teaching what I have learned to those who come after me and giving back to the Cal Poly community.”

- Gavin Griffin, Construction Management
Construction Management Competition concrete team captain


Meredith Beckman image

“Throughout my professional career, I see myself as a leader who understands the responsibility of authority and never takes advantage of it. I hope to be a role model for those around me, one who brings out the best qualities in others.”


- Meredith Beckman, Construction Management
Associated Students of Construction Management Vice President


Kevin Marer image

“I plan to lead by pushing for the implementation of new sustainable and community-oriented strategies into the work I do to positively influence the world we live in.”


— Kevin Marer, Architecture
CAED Student Council/University Housing student assistant

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