I received the runner up prize for Assael Architecture Award for Tenacity back in 2018, following my graduation from BA Architecture at University of Greenwich. The award recognises completion of an architecture degree despite adversity experienced during the studies. I was introduced to the award by my tutor at the time, whom I shared my back story with toward the end of my studies. Coming from a single parent household, and having moved to the UK over 10 years ago without any financial support, we had to build our lives from virtually nothing, but my mum was always determined to make sure I had uninterrupted education and I was therefore the first in the family to enrol into university – an opportunity I will always be grateful for. Having financial insecurities can impact mental health and, consequently, the quality of work – something that is difficult to discuss openly, but such difficult conversations are necessary.

Following my studies, I joined Tarkett as a design assistant and have also co-created a design collective duo Studio Moon with my friend, whom we have similar attitudes toward architectural representation with, and together we enter competitions with the projects that we use to develop our skills further. I have learned the importance of initiating one’s own endeavours and carrying out research of interest outside education; it encourages creativity without the work life taking over and eventually pushes you forward to create your own career.

Because education has been my priority for the majority of my life, I intend to go back into higher education, having built on my past experiences, which taught me persistence and determination when it comes to achieving what I set out to do. The Assael Architecture Award for Tenacity rightly supports students who may not have had ordinary circumstances and backgrounds, but completed their studies nevertheless – this is something that requires twice as much work and, therefore, recognition.