Landscape Architecture Graduating Class Designs Straight Path to Careers

By Dustin Chandler / 05/17/2023 College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources and Environmental Design

Pictured are landscape architecture’s Class of 2023, from left, Octavia Coleman, Nacoma Hunt, Silas Lindsey, assistant professor Steve Rasmussen Cancian, Chavious Burns and Ivan Vazquez. All five students have graduated with jobs in their field.

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (May 17, 2020) – The state’s only undergraduate landscape architecture program, housed at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, has built its résumé this spring by graduating its entire senior class with careers in the field already set to begin.

“Happily, our class of 2023 has set a new record by reaching 100 percent employment in career positions before graduation,” said Steve Rasmussen Cancian, assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Design. “That’s never happened before in our program.

“I think the key difference it makes is that where students drop off from the profession is where it’s hard to find the right first job. In our program, we decided that helping students secure that ‘right first job’ is how we complete our program and make sure that our students achieve professional success.”

A part of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES), N.C. A&T’s landscape architecture program also is the only majority African American program in the country.  

Chavious Burns will head back home to Atlanta for architecture and engineering firm Gresham Smith. The CAES program “meant everything” to him, he said.

“It’s done a lot for me when I’ve been in financial crunches and needed money,” said Burns. “They’ve brought in professional landscape architects to help us and offer an inside look into what life is like. They’ve offered internship opportunities, which are how I’ve received this new opportunity, and I’m really appreciative.”

Ivan Vazquez, who will be working as a landscape designer for Design by Destination in Boone, North Carolina, called graduation “a long time coming.”

“I’m very proud of where I’m graduating from and who I’m graduating with,” said Vazquez. “This is a program that has been there to support me and bring me to where I am today.”

Nacoma Hunt, who will be working for design firm SWA Group in Los Angeles, said he was “excited and nervous at the same time” for the next step.

“I’ve spent a lot of years in college,” said Hunt, “and going out into the real world offers a lot of pressure. At the same time, this program has helped me to be ready. It’s given me the fundamentals to succeed in life and help me find a job before graduating.”

A&T’s landscape architecture program has seen success in the past with previous graduates, including MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient Walter Hood, a member of its inaugural class in 1981.

The most recent graduates have tackled significant projects, including restoring the gravesite of educator and civil rights activist Charlotte Hawkins Brown at the Palmer Memorial Institute in Sedalia and planning a nature trail at Toyota’s battery manufacturing plant at the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite.

For two graduates, Olivia Coleman and Silas Lindsey, who have secured jobs in the U.S. Forest Service, experiences like those have made all the difference.

“I feel like this program has prepared me for the next step,” said Coleman, who will be working as a community engagement coordinator in the Forest Service’s Gainesville, Georgia office. “My professors have helped me out a lot and I’m thankful.”

Lindsey will be a landscape design intern at the Forest Service’s Asheville, North Carolina, location.

“This landscape architecture program has set me up for a career in natural resources and has given me a lot of connections to the professional world that I’ll use, no matter where my career path takes me,” he said. “I feel awesome about it.”

Media Contact Information: dlchandler@ncat.edu

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