The Mary Louis Academy Commencement Address

The Mary Louis Academy Commencement Address

The Mary Louis Academy Commencement Address

Dec 18, 2019

Now that the official photos are in..........

Excited to share that in June of this year I had the honor of giving the commencement address of the Mary Louis Academy graduation at the Colden Auditorium, Queens College. I am the first African American to give this speech in the schools 83 year history.

Here is the speech:

To the Mary Louis Academy Graduates, Faculty and Family,

Good Morning and congratulations to the class of 2019.

It is an honor to speak before you today.

Time is an elusive construct. Whenever one pauses to define it, its definition and what it encompasses is changed by the moments in between. Together let's take an inventory of your life through time.


The legacy of TMLA is built upon academic excellence. You were taught by brilliant teachers passionate and dedicated to seeing you succeed. The education you received is so extraordinary that you will move into the next chapter of your career with an advantage over most. The curriculum is designed in a matter that gave you the ownership and authority to define your program to align with your interests and needs. The message was given to you from day one that you are responsible and expected to be in control of your destiny.

It's important to recognize that we are a product of our environments and the caliber of those who've surrounded you for the past 4 years has powerfully contributed to the person you are today. The friends I made at TMLA are still my best friends and honestly the most impressive and accomplished members of my professional network. Not only did you learn from your teachers and faculty but by your classmates as well. They helped craft your character and became your unique support system.

Me having way too much fun!


As a TMLA alumnae I know we are ambitious women who are always looking 10 steps ahead, ready to decimate the next challenge. However, I am calling on you to take a pause. To live in this moment and feel the impact of this accomplishment because you've earned and deserve the time to relish in this victory. Take the next moment to reflect on your support system, the shoulders you leaned on and thank them for their love and support. Our parents, families, and communities all share in this triumph with you.

My view of the 2019 graduating class and their loved ones.


Graduation day is the precipice for your future and a good time to provide insight into what you can expect. During the first weeks of design school, a professor asked a classmate and me to stand and stated that we were incapable of becoming architects because of our gender and race. I was taken aback by how a professor who didn't even know our names nor talents can be so confident in his proclamation. As well as the silence of our 80 classmates who witnessed this ordeal. As the 315th living licensed African American Woman Architect I can say that for me, graduation was the transition from a nurturing environment of elevating my voice to spaces where they tried to turn down my volume.

Now as an architect I design and create spaces that are culturally diverse, that engages the community in the design process and serve as an advocate for design justice. I founded Beyond the Built Environment, an organization that elevates the prolific impact of women and diverse designers and help develop policies that will change the profession for generations to come.

The world does not extend the same courtesies to women as it does to men. You'll notice that some textbooks will have significant omissions of the contributions of women, you will find that the professional world will try to value your worth and compensation to fractions of your male counterparts. Thank God you have a Mary Louis education and not only were you educated about the powerful women of this world but you are also fully aware of your greatness. You are the leaders of tomorrow, you will change the world. Unapologetically proclaim your purpose and truth defined by your values to the maximum volume.

As Benjamin Disreali once said, "Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time."

My message to you class of 2019, trust in your yesterday, cherish your today and define your tomorrow.

Super proud to share this moment with my family!