Alumni interviews: Steven Msowoya

In the bustling city of Bristol, Steven Msowoya, a first-class Architecture graduate from The University of Manchester is in professional practice at Building Design Partnership. Reflecting on his educational and professional journey, Steven’s commitment to fostering connections between academia and practice shines through his dedication to volunteering.

Steven speaks on his experience volunteering for Meet the Graduates, which connects current students with alumni who have graduated from the University and have gone on to pursue successful careers in various fields.

Staying connected to his studies:

“I think it’s good to know what’s happening in terms of what students are working on and see what’s changing in terms of ideas, what kind of research is being done,” he remarks. His engagement serves as a bridge, ensuring a flow of insights between the worlds of education and practice.

This commitment to staying in touch with the evolving landscape of architectural education underscores Steven’s belief in the reciprocal relationship between studying and practicing architecture. It highlights why staying engaged with the University through volunteering can help one in their career, even after they’ve graduated.

Imparting Wisdom:

As an Alumni volunteer, Steven enjoys reflecting on and imparting knowledge gained through his years in practice. “Going to these [Meet the Graduates] sessions is great for imparting knowledge, so other people aren’t repeating mistakes or making decisions, which actually if they had a bit more context, might lead to them doing something differently” he remarks. Through these sessions, Steven not only shares insights from his professional journey but also cultivates a supportive environment where students can learn and grow.

A two-way exchange:

Steven values the diverse perspectives students bring to the table, fostering an enriching exchange during volunteering. “Students have different ideas… they see things from a different angle,” he observes, highlighting the mutual learning that takes place through volunteering as an alum. By embracing diverse viewpoints and engaging in open dialogue, Meet the Graduates fosters an inclusive learning environment where ideas are exchanged freely, enriching both mentor and mentee alike.

Reflecting on personal growth:

Volunteering serves as a reflective tool for Steven, enabling him to consolidate lessons from his own career journey. “It’s very good for reflecting on my own journey and teasing out the lessons so that they’re clear in my mind” he shares, highlighting the importance of self-reflection in professional development. Through volunteering, Steven gains valuable insights into his own growth as an architect. This process of introspection enables him to refine his skills and approach, ensuring continuous growth and improvement in his practice.

Black architects in the UK:

In the realm of architecture, diversity remains a pressing issue, with Black architects constituting only 1.2% of registered architects in the UK. Black architects bring invaluable perspectives and contributions to the built environment and their underrepresentation underscores the need for greater diversity and inclusivity within the field. By sharing his experiences through volunteering, Steven is one of a number of voices who can speak on some of the experiences of underrepresented people within the field.

An Ongoing Commitment:

Driven by a desire to give back and shape the next generation of architects, Steven expresses eagerness to continue his volunteer endeavours. ” Helping students… is something that I enjoy” he affirms, embodying the spirit of mentorship and paying it forwards.

“There are direct benefits: I think it’s great for… reflecting on your own career journey; I think volunteering teaches you something about communicating to different types of audiences, to people at different stages in their career. It’s different talking to somebody in practice to the way that I might talk to somebody in first year or somebody who’s in sixth year. Learning how to tailor your communication to a particular audience, I think volunteering helps with that.” Not only does being an alumni volunteer benefit students but it also provides valuable opportunities for personal and professional growth. By engaging with diverse audiences our volunteers hone essential skills while making a meaningful difference in the lives of others.

Steven’s commitment to volunteering is rooted in a genuine desire to make a meaningful impact in the lives and careers of aspiring architects.

A grateful farewell:

Reflecting on his university experience, Steven extends heartfelt gratitude to The University of Manchester for the impact it had on his journey. “I had a great time, they helped me massively. It’s a means of saying thanks for the support that I received” he reminisces, acknowledging the pivotal role The University of Manchester had in shaping his career trajectory. This expression of gratitude serves as a testament to the transformative power of mentorship, highlighting the enduring influence of Steven’s university experience on his professional path as an architect.

As Steven continues to bridge the realms of academia and practice, his dedication to nurturing future architects serves as an example for aspiring professionals. Through meaningful engagement and mentorship, Steven inspires alumni to embark on their own volunteering journey, fostering growth, inclusivity, and impact at the University of Manchester.