Megan Henry, Assoc. AIA: Giving Back to Gain Insight & Inspiration

Meet Megan Henry, Assoc. AIA, Pennsylvania’s Regional Associate Director (RAD) to the AIA National Associates Committee (NAC)

An enthusiastic and active member of the AIA Eastern Pennsylvania chapter and board, Megan is also a member of the AIA Pennsylvania Emerging Professionals Commitee (EPiC) leadership. Megan is currently a Project Designer at MKSD architects in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Outside of the office, Megan splits her time between the causes that matter to her,  studying for the ARE, and looking after her beloved corgi, Bubs. Read on for Megan’s wise words on AIA membership, interesting extracurriculars, and get inspired to get out into your community!

In your “spare time” do you pursue any interesting hobbies or extracurricular pursuits?

Tons – I like to keep busy! I enjoy running and spend almost every Saturday morning with a group called the Breakfast Club Runners.  I briefly played roller derby for Two Rivers Roller Derby but had to put a hold on that until I get licensed. My boyfriend and I enjoy traveling, going to local festivals, and finding new restaurants to try.  We also have a corgi, Bubs! It’s rare for us to have a free weekend.

Why is it important for emerging professionals to get involved in their communities and give back? How has your experience training to be an architect in the office/field (AXP experience) been an asset to your dedication to volunteer and community service?

Giving back is a HUGE passion of mine!!! Volunteering and being an active member in the community was instilled in me at a young age.  Community sports, Girl Scouts, food drives, working at non-profits, donating to the fire department, walk-a-thons, etc. – my parents were always finding small ways to give back.

These values followed me through college and eventually inspired my involvement with Habitat for Humanity.  One of the greatest experiences I participated in at Philadelphia University was Alternative Spring Break through Habitat for Humanity.  This experience showed me the immense poverty throughout the country, as well as the gratitude and selflessness that we are all capable of.  So moved by these experiences, my friend and I founded a Habitat for Humanity Campus Chapter working with a local affiliate to provide students the opportunity to serve right in our neighborhood.

As graduation approached, I made the decision to dedicate a year of service as an AmeriCorps VISTA rather than jumping right into architecture.  This experience not only provided an opportunity to be on the construction site, but it also taught me the importance of leadership, community, and service. My experiences with Habitat helped me to view the affects architecture and the buildings we design have on communities.  We are providing homes, health care, grocery stores, businesses – the brick and mortar for successful communities. 

Being an active member of the community helps you to understand the environment and people of which you are designing for.  I urge everyone to find that experience that inspires them to be better and do better – no matter what their profession might be.  One of my favorite quotes captures this best: “Many small people, in many small places, do many small things, that can alter the face of the world” – Anonymous.

What would you say to those young professionals in the architecture field that are on the fence about joining AIAS or AIA or getting more involved? How have you found value in membership?

I encourage everyone to be involved with the AIA/AIAS.  This organization represents our entire profession and decisions are being made that affect our day-today as well as our future.  We need to be at the table to make sure our voices are heard, our needs are met, and progress is made towards the future of the profession.

My experience in the AIA has been invaluable!  In just two years I have made so many networking connections, learned more about the industry, traveled to new cities… I can go on and on!  It is the type of organization that you get out what you put in – so don’t be afraid to dive in. You will find a place within this community – and if not, there is an opportunity to make it!