"Growing up, I simply wanted to be an architect"
We sat down with Aisha Janki, an MA in Architecture student at University of Edinburgh. She echoed that, being a Muslim and woman of colour in the construction industry is having a unique perspective fuelled by the untraditional experiences you have had to go through as a result of the complex identities you did not choose in the first place. She found herself the only Black Muslim woman in her current classes, on the entire course, in most rooms, at the firms, and in the house.
She grew up in North-Western Nigeria; hence her identity was not an anomaly. There were many Muslims and black people around her every day and was part of the majority. Nevertheless, she did experience being the only one in the room by being the only female in her Technical Drawing classes. She notes that she did get privileges still as a result of this. "When the boys would not turn up, I would receive one on one sessions with my highly skilled teacher." Within those three years of senior high school, she was able to soak in a lot of information in her chosen subject; architecture.
"I realised I was no longer simply Aisha, the architect, I was now Aisha, the Black Muslim female architect"
Being the only female in my class prepared her when she moved to Edinburgh. "When I moved to Edinburgh to start my undergraduate education, I realised I was no longer simply Aisha, the architect, I was now Aisha, the Black Muslim female architect." There were no black tutors, no Muslim tutors, and this created a barrier in her architectural influences not being easily understood without her going the extra mile in explaining.
She notes that despite these difference, she has benefited from the challenges this brought about. She now has a very diverse group of friends who have shared values and principles. She has worked with people who she struggled to understand at first but has now fostered good relationships. These difference have made her an emotionally adept person who can adjust her learning styles and better understand people from different walks of life.
She is an alumni of African Science Academy where she completed her A Levels in 12 months! A statement to her genius and intelligence. She is passionate about encouraging the younger generation, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds like herself, to pursue their dreams. It is why she signed up to be a student ambassador for the organisation "Access to Creative Education Scotland". She has recently started a YouTube channel called Aisha Janki where she posts content that seeks to inspire, motivate and educate.
On why she chose her career path as an architect
"I was already an artist at the age of 8. I drew at the sight of any picture; portraits, buildings, houses, etc. I became interested in architecture at the age of 12. I had a Basic Technology teacher, Uncle Anthony, who happened to be an architect, and I got fascinated by the way he drew and sketched. He always admonished my drawings, especially the isometric and orthographic projections. I was among a group of students who designed a 3D model of our school building. I became amazed at the exciting things you could do with creativity. I also discovered that Architecture was the best course a young girl with a passion for drawing, designing and creativity could offer. I enjoyed the singular fact that you could do amazing things by just being creative."
On advice, she would give to someone pursuing this career.
"I would say they should go for it. Architecture is everywhere, and it is one of those roles that will forever be needed in society so long as humans need shelter. It's never too late to start learning about what it means to be an architect. Never stop asking questions. Lastly, but most importantly, do not give up on your dreams because they are valid too."
Want to follow Aisha on her journey, find her via the below platforms.
YouTube: Aisha Janki
LinkedIn: Aisha Janki Akinola