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News > DP Education > DE Spotlight | Majaya Rae Powell

DE Spotlight | Majaya Rae Powell

Majaya Rae Powell is a junior at Temple University studying architectural design. In Spring 2024, she combined her passion for working with the youth and her eye for design while volunteering with The Center for DesignPhiladelphia’s DesignEducation program. Majaya began her collegiate journey as an early childhood education major but rerouted as she remembered her teenage years of teaching herself Adobe Applications and creating digital art. This love, paired with her strength in mathematics, led her to pursue a degree in Architectural Design. Now, with her volunteerism with the DE program, she utilizes even more of her strengths and advocates for design education in and out of the classroom.

Q: How did you initially become interested in pursuing a career in architecture?  
A: "In my freshman year, I felt a little lost with my major. I searched Temple’s 3D modeling and digital art-focused course selections, and the most interesting classes required for architecture majors. After more research into the field, I decided to lock in and did dual studio during my second year of school."

Q: How do you introduce students to design during your sessions? 
A: "The key I found to having students understand more complex concepts is by breaking down the idea, and then slowly working in new vocabulary while explaining with words they are already familiar with. A perfect example of this would be the “Facade” portion of our project. Not one student knew what a facade was when we first started the lesson, but we started by showing them examples and followed this by explaining how a facade is the face of a building. After they had a general understanding, we introduced the idea of layering elements (windows, doors, stairs, planters) through a collage exercise. We wanted students to show off their personalities and to make something more abstract, rather than focusing on perfecting every little detail."

Q: How do you believe volunteering in this program will give you an edge when post-graduation? 
A: "Through DE, I was able to make great connections as well as try something completely new. This program can speak volumes, to my interests, but on my patience and workability. When it comes to working with students, you can plan all you want, but you can never guarantee it will go that way. You need to be able to go with the flow in times of change."

Q: Working with kids is a new experience every day. They are constantly showing you the world through a different lens. What is one lesson you will take away from this experience that the students taught you? 
A: "No two people are the same. It sounds obvious, but the little differences never failed to amaze me while teaching. All the students received the same instruction at the same time but the way they interpreted it was completely different. With teaching design, it is important to explain what they are doing and why, but it is important to not dictate every detail of the work. The more room you allow for creativity, the more you will be surprised at the outcome. They need the structure to stay on the path but as long as they are working towards the end goal, give them freedom to express themselves."

Q: Why do you believe exposure to design education can benefit students, regardless of their future career paths? 
A: "All students should be allowed to experience and explore design. The design field has not been very diverse, and this can stem directly from the fact that young kids in less-funded schools are barely being taught the basics let alone design. This is an issue within itself, and education should not be gatekept. All students regardless of income should have the same educational opportunities as their peers. Some kids excel in reading and others in math, but for some students, both may be challenging. You give the child who may not excel in the traditional school atmosphere to thrive. You show them that there are so many opportunities to excel in life."

Interested in volunteering with DesginPhiladelphia's Design Education program?  Please reach out to Michael Spain (michael@designphiladelphila.org), Liza Niles (liza@designphiladelphila.org), or Carly Clifford (carly@designphiladelphila.org) for more information.

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