December 9, 2020
We are continuing to highlight the unique relationships within our global community of seasoned professionals, as Epstein's strength lies in the wealth of shared experience to better equip our workforce with knowledge and confidence.
From building great professional relationships to long lasting friendships, these stories speak for themselves. Alexus Davis, a Design Professional from our Chicago Architecture department, is up next.
Alexus graduated with a Master of Architecture (MArch) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2018. She has remained busy at Epstein with a multitude of projects, including several for Peoples Gas, Homewood Suites and the O’Hare pedestrian tunnels for the past two and half years. Alexus is a member of our in-house charity, the Epstein Community Foundation, and serves as an Ace Mentor team leader. She is also an associate member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and a participant in the 2020-2021 Bridge Mentorship Program at the AIA Chicago Chapter, which provides emerging professionals with access to local AIA Fellows (FAIA), leaders and designers from the architectural community.
Alexus is currently pursuing her architect license and recently won the Jason Pettigrew Memorial ARE Scholarship, which gives funds to emerging professionals to cover the cost of taking the ARE Exams.
Alexus is also a member of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and is the 2020 DesignBuild co-chair of the Illinois chapter, I-NOMA, as well as the Project Pipeline Chair, a program developed to empower under-served and under-represented youth to affect change in their communities through design. The Pipeline continues to support and mentor students and young professionals as they matriculate through the rigors of becoming a licensed architect.
What actions did your first mentors take that proved to be so valuable for you?
They showed up for me, and they showed they cared about me as a person, outside of having a professional relationship.
While at Epstein, I've had many mentors, such as Priyanka Rao, Jeff McQuiston, Brad Hartig and Laura Rebbe, that have gone above and beyond to teach me about the practice of architecture and ensure that I grow professionally. Additionally, Laura and Jeff serve as great examples of leaders in both the practice and extracurricular activities. Epstein has provided space and opportunities for me to grow professionally and personally through the many activities I participate in.
What are some of the challenges your mentor has helped you overcome?
My primary mentor, Jason Pugh, played a role in helping me secure my first full-time position at Epstein immediately after graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It was through his relationship with Randy Buescher, as fellow ACE Mentor Board members, that he connected me to this company. He, as well as many other mentors in NOMA, inspired me to not give up on my architecture career while I was in school. Watching their success as architects, and especially as folks navigating their careers as people of color, allowed me to see the ways I can grow in this profession.
What motivated you to start mentoring? What keeps you inspired?
What motivated me to start mentoring was having amazing mentors come in my life that I can lean on. They have given so much to me, and it’s important for me to return those favors to others. I love routing for other people; when I mentor a student and they share their goals with me, witnessing them achieve their goals is rewarding for me because it means that my advice and what I had to offer was beneficial and worked. I also see myself as someone who will be a life-long learner; I believe there will always be something new to learn and the ability to accumulate new knowledge keeps me inspired.
What have you learned from your time in the ACE Mentor Program?
I’ve learned a lot about the resources Chicago has to offer, and the resources that many companies are willing to provide to students at a young age. The most important part about this, I’ve come to learn, is that they’re not limited to the students.
One word, verb, noun, adjective, adverb, that describes a mentor's role
According to you, what are the secrets for a successful mentor/mentee relationship?
The biggest secret to having a successful mentor/mentee relationship is to be authentically yourself. You will not click with everyone you meet and that is alright. Additionally, you might find that some mentors can give you guidance on one aspect of your life, and that through a culmination of mentors, you can put the puzzle pieces to your life together.
What is your favorite part about being a mentor?
Seeing how excited the students get about the knowledge we are sharing with them and how excited they get about us simply spending time with them. I remember when I was in high school, having an adult (that was not my teacher) pay attention to me was big; I always felt like adults didn’t care too much for teenagers. The students’ youthful energy can be rejuvenating for me, and an easy escape from the realities of adulthood.
What advice do you have for fellow/aspiring ACE mentors?
The best advice I can give is to be yourself, and participate because you want to. There’s nothing worse than someone entering into a mentorship program because they’re seeking some form of professional growth or potentially a promotion. The experience ultimately becomes unfavorable for both the mentor and mentee. I always go by the mantra of “have fun and enjoy yourself.” Mentoring and volunteering is extra-curricular, so why not enjoy it!