We are sharing the stories of several of University of Detroit Mercy’s newest alumni to mark the graduation of the Class of 2021.
Taylor Kile came to University of Detroit Mercy wanting to become an architect. After four years, she completes her undergraduate career knowing exactly how she can impact the world.
Kile, who is graduating this May with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture with a minor in Leadership, discovered her passion for inadequate housing in developing countries while studying at Detroit Mercy.
Initially, Kile thought she wanted to spend her life designing mansions and extravagant homes, but she was quickly won over by the field’s community aspects, as well as its science and mathematics base.
“I think that’s really what drove me to Architecture,” she said.
Like many Detroit Mercy students, Kile volunteered in communities surrounding the McNichols Campus. These service-learning experiences proved to be eye-opening for her. But a weeklong trip to Cuba through the School of Architecture provided Kile firsthand exposure to what would become her passion.
Dilapidated housing grew more common the further the group got from Cuba’s capital city of Havana. Porches supported by small pieces of wood were caving in, and homes were not constructed to be handicap accessible.
These scenes resonated with Kile, empowering her to want to make a difference with her career.
“They don’t have the resources and I do, so why wouldn’t I help somebody in need?” Kile said. “I think the best thing you can do for something is spread the word about it if you don’t have the financial means to really make an impact. The second-best way is to just spread your voice and make it be heard. That’s what I’m trying to do.
“This was my first international experience, so it was really eye-opening and I obviously felt a type of responsibility to then go and spread my knowledge.”
These volunteering efforts helped Kile earn a pair of Michigan Architectural Foundation scholarships last year: the Richard Fry AIA Michigan President’s Scholarship and the Professional Concepts Insurance Agency Scholarship. These are awarded to architecture students who demonstrate leadership and are involved in the community.
Kile has stayed busy during her time at Detroit Mercy, taking 18 credit hours per undergraduate semester, while balancing responsibilities as a member of the Detroit Mercy cheerleading team.
“It was a really amazing experience,” Kile said of her time cheering at Detroit Mercy. “I would say at times it was stressful to juggle everything, but I wouldn’t go back and change it if I could. I really made new connections throughout that process. It was an outlet for me when I was stressed out, because you get so involved with architecture, that you have to step away from the computer sometimes. But sometimes you just need to walk away, and having practice and games would allow me to have a break in my schedule.”
Being involved in so many different things was important to Kile when she started at the University. In addition to cheer, her involvement includes internships with Straub Pettitt Yaste Architects and Detroit Mercy’s Facilities Management division, cheer representative for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, co-vice president for the University’s National Organization of Minority Architecture student chapter and residential advisor and orientation leader roles at the University.
“I think college is a time where you should try everything and find your true passion and calling, because right now is the best time to get involved with all different organizations and find what you want to do later in life,” she said. “It will be a lot harder for me to be involved with that many things later when I have a full-time job, so I really wanted to take advantage of being able to do everything that I possibly could.
“They also open new opportunities for you elsewhere. That was really my reason for getting involved with so many different things, and I would advise anyone to do that and take advantage of as many opportunities as possible.”
Kile’s time at Detroit Mercy isn’t completely over — she’s in the process of earning master degrees in Architecture and Civil Engineering Management — but her favorite moments so far involve overcoming obstacles. She remembers starting her undergraduate career on academic probation to eventually become a valedictorian candidate. She also had a graduate assistant position in the Financial Aid Office as a sophomore, a rare feat.
Kile appreciates that she was able to build strong relationships and get to know many students and employees because of Detroit Mercy’s welcoming environment. It also meant a lot to her that School of Architecture’s professors were “motivating and inspiring” and would go “above and beyond” to help students.
She points to six employees who positively affected her undergraduate career: School of Architecture Dean Dan Pitera, School of Architecture Associate Dean and Professor Noah Resnick, Assistant Athletic Director for NCAA Compliance Steve Corder, Professor of Architecture Allegra Pitera, School of Architecture and Detroit Collaborative Design Center Business Manager Brigette Murphy-Barbee and Financial Aid Counselor Marisa Tucker.
Kile is excited for her future. She can’t wait to start researching for her thesis, which she says will be on inadequate housing in developing countries. She wants to have an impact with that topic through her architectural expertise.
“I would really like my thesis to be published, that’s my main goal right now within the next two to three years,” Kile said. “My second goal would be to one day open up my own firm. And then after that, I think I would want to work at an Architecture engineering firm, because they’re bigger. Most of them, you’re allowed to travel because they’re normally international. I would prefer to work at an international firm, just because of my passions with inadequate housing in developing countries.”
— Ricky Lindsay