The WISE (Woodbury Integrative Student Experience) Program grants $1,000 Tuition Scholarships to eligible students throughout the university each year. The program enables students to earn scholarship funds while gaining invaluable life experiences and compelling educational opportunities in four High Impact Practices (HIPS) — study away, civic engagement, leadership and internships, each applicable to emerging local and global communities.
For Allen (AKA Nani) Reyes, an undergraduate at the School of Architecture’s Barrio Logan campus in San Diego, architecture is a language, a means of communication that has served as his portal to the world. An L.A. native who grew up in Temecula, he’s among this year’s group of WISE Scholarship recipients.
“’Sketch it out for me,’” Nani says. “That phrase has echoed from my first architectural class to the first week of my internship. I’ve always found it intriguing that architecture has the ability to be communicated in so many different forms, from the simple sketch to a few words. Thanks to WISE, I’ve been given a hammer and a box of nails, and it’s up to me to build the walls for a strong career.”
As he recalls, “growing up has not been the easiest path for me. I was gifted with Asperger’s Syndrome. That made school a challenge — I competed with a less-than-ideal learning curve, academically and socially. As I’ve gotten older I’ve been able to turn those difficulties into gifts and use them to my advantage. Giving up or going down is not an option for me.”
A self-described visual learner, Nani says verbal communication “has never been my strong suit, so learning to read and talk through drawings is what made learning that much more exciting. Being able to continue this practice in the workplace has made me appreciate communication skills in all forms.”
This past summer, through his WISE Scholarship, he interned at Walter Allen Architect & Associates, a firm in Old Town Temecula specializing in projects throughout the community, notably its growing number of wineries.
“I joined the team just in time to be part of the design and documentation of a new winery down the street from my home,” Nani says. The day he started, clients approved the design. “My duties were to be simple: produce a set of construction documents for a type 5 non-rated commercial building, following basic title 24 construction codes.”
While somewhat familiar with construction documents, he says he was relieved to be working alongside a retired architect who ultimately served as his mentor. In adapting hand-drawn sketches using AutoCAD, Allen understood that Art, the retired architect, wanted him to do more than just copy the sketches – he wanted him to fully understand them. “I began to appreciate the importance of asking questions,” Nani says. “Seeking guidance became not a taboo but a sign of strength and determination.”
It was Nani’s first bona fide opportunity to move from the theoretical to the applied, from architecture coursework to the real thing. “These were the same patterns and steps I had followed in the classroom, so with sufficient resources and aid I found I was able to contribute to the project as a professional, not merely as a student,” he says.
“At Walter Allen’s, I was trying to interpret the designer’s vision as a client would and turn it into a reality,” he says. “I was able to assemble a set of drawings that could be sent to our consultants in a timely matter, speeding up the time for permit submittals, moving the project forward more quickly than my employers anticipated.
“It gives me a great feeling of accomplishment to know that my name will be on the final set of drawings used for construction,” Nani says. “I began this internship with training wheels, but by the time the summer was over, I was able to ride without them. “