MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami woman is on a new career path in architecture thanks to a program designed for students.

Naomi Harrison is an architectural project manager at M C Harry & Associates, which created Black Architects in the Making, also known as BAM.

BAM was created to introduce and educate middle and high school students, primarily African American, to the world of architecture.

Harrison has been involved with BAM for several years, helping expose youngsters to architecture but also working to diversify the industry.

“One of the underrepresented in the industry is also females. 18-percent of architects are females but only .04-percent of the architects in the state identify as black female Americans,” explained Harrison.

Harrison along with other associates go into communities where African Americans live, work, and play and talk to them about architecture.

It was at one of the workshops where she met Bernise Muhammad, the parent of one of the students.

“She reminded me so much of myself because anytime my son had an event I was always there with my son and she was always there with her daughter,” recalled Harrison.

Bernise loved the program so much, she was motivated to pursue a career in architecture and enrolled in the Miami-Dade College School of Architecture.

“Oh my God, I’m going to be an architect. I’ve gone for a few semesters already and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made.  I’m so excited about it,” said Muhammad.

Muhammad credits Harrison’s guidance as a mentor for designing her new plan in life.

“She’ll go above and beyond every time.  I was asking her a question about how to design a roof and she’ll say okay. She’ll take her time to explain it to me and she has really helped me so much,” said Muhammad.

Bernise is the only adult who has come out of BAM and decided to pursue a career in architecture as a result of being involved in the workshops as a parent.

“It takes that one planting of the seed and that seed will grow and grow and grow.  I mean look at it, we didn’t think we would reach a parent and we reached a parent and she decided to change career paths and go into architecture because it was something she realized she could do and achieve,” said Harrison.

While Muhammad continues to seek guidance in Harrison, she is paying it forward by mentoring other young students to find their own path.

“I want to be able to show them if I can do it they can do it as well.  Being a student shows them you can accomplish whatever you want,” said Muhammad.

This last semester, Bernise received A’s at Miami-Dade College and is now in the process of transferring to FIU to obtain her master of architecture degree.

Click here to find out more about Black Architects in the Making, which is a program of Miami Center for Architecture and Design (MCAD), an affiliate of AIA Miami, and find out ways your group can take part or Click here for more on Naomi Harrison at M C Harry & Associates.

If you are a mentor and would like to share your story with us, please email us at mentoringmatters@cbs.com.

Click here for more Mentoring Matters.

Marybel Rodriguez

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