Community, Leadership, Architecture, and the AIAS with Sarah Wahlgren

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Sarah Wahlgren, National President of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), shares her journey to becoming an architect, what inspires her work, and how she’s serving the architecture community.

Sarah Wahlgren

Sarah Wahlgren knew that she wanted to become an architect ever since she was in the 4th grade. It was her passion and love of architecture that led her to pursue a degree at the Auburn University in Alabama.

Today, Sarah is sharing her experience with others as a leader in the architect community. Each year, the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) elects new leaders at their Forum Conference. Last year, Sarah was elected to be the 2016-2017 National President of AIAS.

Today, we discuss Sarah’s roots, journey, and her goals for the future. Sarah is an incredibly influential architect; not just because she wants to help people see architecture in a different angle, but because she wants to serve the community and make the world a better place for everyone.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode

  • How Sarah’s home life and elementary education supported her creativity and love of architecture.
  • Why Sarah changed her plans from studying in Texas to Auburn University after watching the documentary, Citizen Architect
  • How Aurburn University’s diverse programs exposed Sarah to different fields of architecture and even travel.
  • Why and when Sarah became an active member of the AIAS chapter at Auburn University.
  • Sarah’s roles as the National President of AIAS and what she’s done to strengthen its ability to help members.
  • What is the AIAS program, Freedom by Design, and how does it help students use their architecture skills to help local communities.
  • Sarah’s plans for when she has completed her role as the AIAS National President. She wishes to work for a firm with diverse opportunities while still being an active AIAS member.
  • Why Sarah sees mentorship has not a senior-junior dynamic, but a co-learning friendship between colleagues.
  • The benefits for students to become involved with AIAS.
  • How the online presence of AIAS is able to help connect and support members through several social media platforms.
  • What are the different AIAS conferences and what are their functions including networking and leadership training.

 Sarah Wahlgren’s Advice for Aspiring Architects

​”Say yes to as many ​new ​opportunities as ​you can. ​​Balance diverse work opportunities with chances to meet as many people​ ​as possible.​ Gaining exposure to as many new settings, situations, people and ideas early in your education and career will ​lead to growth and a greater perspective on architecture.”

Resources Mentioned in the Show

About the author

Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect who lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon, with his Labrador Retriever. He is passionate about helping Young Architects change the world. In his free time, Michael likes to take very long bicycle rides across America. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linked In. Also check out his new project Young Architect Gear, designing architecturally themed gifts and products.


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