Alumni Give Back

A conversation with Noshin Apurba and Nusrath Faruq

Spitzer School alumna Noshin Apurba (BArch ’15) and her sister, former SSA student Nusrath Faruq, created the SK Rahman and Salina Begum Scholarship for Minority Women in Architecture at the Spitzer School. Elizabeth Christian M Arch I ’17 recently spoke to Noshin and Nusrath about the scholarship, studying at Spitzer, and their careers.

EC: Let’s begin by discussing your education and professional backgrounds.

NA: I graduated from SSA in 2015 with a B Arch and a History and Theory concentration, the first to do so under the mentorship of the amazing Prof. Marta Gutman, from whom I had the pleasure of receiving unconditional support and mentorship. SSA was instrumental in providing me with experience and working habits that helped me acquire and maintain my current job at the architectural firm Bouler Pfluger Architects, which provides rehabilitation and elevation for homes affected by Hurricane Sandy.

NF: My experience was a bit different. I was the first person in our family to attend college and have a professional job. When I graduated high school, I wasn’t sure what career to pursue. I enrolled at CCNY and started taking architecture classes at SSA. I was soon convinced that I wanted to be in this field. Four years after this revelation, I graduated with a BS from CUNY’s New York City College of Technology in 2010. I worked in commercial/hospitality design for a few years and obtained my Masters in Sustainable Placemaking and Urban Design at Kingston University in 2015, the same year that Noshin finished her BArch! I have been working at a non-profit organization, the Institute for Building Technology and Safety, which provides design and construction management for the NYC Build it Back program.

EC: Tell me about the scholarship you both created?

NA: Nusrath suggested the scholarship when we were discussing what to give our parents for their 30th wedding anniversary. We wanted it to be something that reflected their altruistic nature and love for helping others. When my sister suggested the scholarship, I loved the idea, although I was skeptical at first. We were merely two girls who wanted to do something for our parents. But were we ready to take on the task of helping others like us and establish a fund we pictured would continue for years? We talked and calculated and talked a bit more to find a solution. SSA was the right choice for both of us to establish this scholarship because it’s where we both began our journeys in architecture and it holds a special place in our hearts. We decided to create a scholarship to help women like us, minorities studying architecture, through providing what relief we could for what we know is an expensive education.

NF: Studying architecture would be nearly impossible for first-generation immigrants if CUNY didn’t offer an architecture program. Speaking from personal experience, we would not have been able to afford the tuition of other architecture schools in NYC.

EC: What is your vision for this scholarship moving forward?

NA: We envision this scholarship will help women through alleviating a bit of their monetary burden and provide them support to continue their education. We are looking to reach out to students who can and will make the most of this scholarship and hopefully help others in the future, too!

NF: We want to encourage more women to pursue architecture. After all, we can do everything better than men!

EC: What were your most memorable experiences at SSA?

NA: My most memorable experience at SSA was the culmination of all the years spent with my friends, with most of whom I still keep in close contact. The friends I made in my first studio have remained with me through the all-nighters, presentations, and becoming a full-fledged architect.

EC: What advice would you give to current students?

NA: I would tell students to follow their hearts and passions, as clichéd as it sounds. Architecture is a career that is demanding, beginning from our first year in college and lasting for a lifetime. Although that may sound daunting, it is actually an amazing thing. If you pursue architecture with passion, you meet others with the same passion, and have experiences that challenge you to improve. Ultimately, I would tell students to prepare for their careers by having an open mind and a thirst for knowledge, because there is no way you are going to be in this field and not discover aspects of it that intrigue and boggle your mind.

NF: Architecture students must be really passionate and dedicated to be successful in the field. They should be prepared for an emotional roller coaster. There are so many ups and downs, so many sleepless nights, and feelings of achievements. But if you are passionate, it is the most satisfying experience you will have.