The Team

We are all diligently working on our individual design options for this Friday’s presentation. But let me ask you, are you tired of seeing images of trace paper with staged pens/pencils? Us too. So I want to take the opportunity this week to tell you a little bit more about us. In the haste of beginning this project we never really took the time to give a proper introduction. I mean, for the people from the Conservancy, don’t you want to know who will be designing and building your community garden pavilion? You don’t just hire someone with David Pastre’s credentials alone…

Entire graduate class (30 total) at Fall Semester’s final review

We’re a team of 12 students. We come from around the world (thanks Kelly). We speak many languages (thanks Kelly). We greatly vary in height (thanks Kelly). We have a wide range of backgrounds and very diverse experiences. I have the pleasure of taking all my classes with all but one of them (sorry Nicole). And let me tell you, it has been an incredible experience to study alongside these people since we started the program in August. Each day I learn from my professors but sometimes I learn much more from the person sitting beside me. So, without further ado:

First, meet Audrey Hesson. Audrey comes from the great state of Michigan where the low this week is -15°F. She is by far the quirkiest of us all. Whether it’s making odd noises with no warning or singing a rap song that would make even Snoop Dogg blush, Audrey is always good for a laugh. She’s also one of the most productive and hardest working classmates I’ve known. She is a step ahead of everyone else and keeps our studio on track.

Next is Kelly Umutoni. Kelly hails from the Republic of Rwanda. I’ve been waiting for her to cook some authentic Rwandan food for us, but no dice. Instead she likes to make some abomination of a meal involving tuna and peanut butter. Shameful. It’s OK Kelly, you’re better at other things. Like architecture. Kelly will blow you out of the water with her creativity, graphic skills, and design ability.

Next to Kelly sits Roberto Diaz Manzanares who hails from Mexico. Unlike Kelly, Roberto did make cuisine from his home country. However, I would be OK if I never had Tacos de Lengua (Beef Tongue Tacos) again. I think he made pasta the other night as a peace offering? You’ll constantly hear professors tell this low talker to speak up, and for good reason. You need to hear what Roberto has to say because he is one of the most insightful students in our class. He brings a unique perspective and outlook to every discussion.

Let me introduce you to Hawraa Charara. Hawraa was born and raised in College Station, TX before attending college at Texas A&M right there in her hometown. I hear some smart people live in College Station. It ranks as the most educated city in Texas, but I don’t think that’s very difficult? (don’t listen to the rankings about South Carolina!) But seriously, those rankings are because of people like Hawraa. She chooses her words very carefully, always offering an amazing perspective with a keen awareness of the problem at hand.

To Hawraa’s right is John Murden, our only Charleston native. John has been our go-to for questions about Charleston. He knows all the tips and secrets of the city and will yell at me when I pronounce Huger St. as ‘HEW-GUR Street’. John has an amazing eye for good design and has no problem voicing his opinion, making sure to do it with respect. When John gives you positive feedback, you know you’re on the right path.

Behind me sits Nicole Coker. Nicole is our only undergraduate student but don’t let that fool you. It’s clear she won’t miss a step this semester. She’s not afraid to offer her opinions, which are always insightful. I won’t poke fun at her quite yet, maybe at the end of the semester.

Next up is Taylor Bissert. Taylor’s from Colorado if you didn’t hear. And if I have to hear how great Colorado is one more time I’m going to change majors. But seriously, it must be an OK spot if people like Taylor come from there. Taylor is one of the most talented students in our class. She’s a natural leader that has the drive and hard work to back it up.

Next is Aaron Green. Aaron is a native of Asheville, NC. Follow him to some of the best craft beer and wine in the city. He always has the scoop on the best spots. Aaron is not afraid to challenge the status quo, always asking if something can be made better. He’s an asset to any team and will be instrumental in the success of this project.

On down the line is Cameron Foster. Don’t confuse him as an assistant football coach though, he just owns every officially licensed Clemson polo ever made. He’s Clemson’s biggest fan and one of its best students. His graphic skills and focus are unparalleled. He’s a big picture guy who doesn’t let ego interfere with a successful project, an incredibly valuable skill when working with 11 other people.

Next up is Ryan Massengill. Having been in Charleston during his undergraduate studies at Clemson, Ryan is somewhat of a celebrity down here at the CDC.C. Rumor has it he helped Ray Huff start the program in the 80’s (tomorrow’s post to fact check). Don’t be scared by his Moses-like beard and booming voice, Ryan is one of the most talented and bright students in our studio. He has extensive experience in construction and woodworking which will definitely come in handy this semester.

Last but definitely not least is Megan Gotsch. Megan is the smartest student in our studio. No joke! She went to the University of Cincinnati. I have a hard time getting along with Megan, though (she’s a cat person). But her cat Sage is pretty cool. While a Sage sighting is rare, like that of a Siberian Tiger, it’s a special moment to get a glimpse of this majestic beast. Enough about the cat. Megan is one of the hardest working students in the program. She takes the time to critically look at each element of a design problem, and her thoughtful solutions always reflect that.

That’s everyone. Quite a group, don’t you think? I consider myself very fortunate to call each of them my classmates. And if there’s any juice left in this proverbial horn, I might add that the people of Charleston are fortunate to have this team as well.

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