Payette People Featured in Equity by Design (EQxD) Inspire% Series

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Payette’s Kerry Drake speaks with Equity by Design (EQxD) and Mia Scharphie of Build Yourself about her career in architecture and how she achieved the goals she set for herself.

INSPIRE% [09]: Kerry Drake on Taking the Leap
Kerry Drake is an Architect at Payette in Boston. A few years ago, Kerry set some big bold goals for herself—and shares the results here, showing that love for adventure and traditional career growth are not mutually exclusive.

During my career I have had the opportunity to work on a wide spectrum of education facilities, from simple rural schools in Central America, to state-of-the-art research facilities in Europe and the US. One of my early projects was a special education high school in California; a mini-campus within the setting of a traditional high school. Students could take classes at either campus per their needs and abilities.  More recently I have worked on a ground-up research university in Moscow, designing labs for cutting-edge research in optics, materials, computing, and bio sciences.

In the fall of 2016, my partner and I were offered the opportunity to serve as fellows with Engineers without Borders in rural Guatemala. We talked about it for some time, concerned about the career and life logistics (breaking the lease, taking a leave of absence from employment, potential health issues and other physical dangers, etc.). However we realized this was a rare opportunity to do something big and bold.

So we took the leap and broke our lease, put everything in storage, and spent six months in the highlands of Guatemala. I managed the construction of a high school, the first public high school in their town. My partner was working on hydroelectric dam renovation nearby, so we lived together in a small house, and we really got to know a lot of the local workers there. Work was conducted in completely Spanish, so the Spanish I had studied in school came in handy (if a little rusty). It is truly a humbling experience when people would approach you in tears because they were so happy that you are there building a school for them.

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