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Surrounded by Strength

A run down memory lane, reconnecting with her Carondo-roots, and a career surrounded by strong female mentors.

“I’ve always loved art and I wanted to find a career that incorporated art and design.”

After Carondelet, Mia Eikani ’15 attended the University of Oregon School of Architecture. “They have an amazing program focused on sustainable practice and design, which I’m very passionate about,” said Mia. “Every class makes you think about the design impact on environmental, social, and cultural systems.

Her journey into architecture was one fueled by strong women at every turn—despite the fact that it’s a male dominated career path. “There is a very strong network of women in architecture and design,” Mia explained. “All my internships and jobs had incredible women who spent time together to make sure everyone is treated equally, equitably, and fairly.”

“It feels similar to the sisterhood at Carondelet, comforting and inspiring. I don’t have any sisters, so my Carondelet peers are my sisters. Now, I have this new sisterhood through the incredible women I have met in my field.”

Mia’s time as a Cougar set her up for a lifetime of memories but also a baseline of hard work and creativity. She applied to the University of Oregon’s architecture program using her AP History portfolio from Mrs. Easthope’s class. “She was an amazing teacher and I was very lucky to have taken her course because it helped me build a competitive college portfolio and gave me a solid foundation for college level courses,” said Mia.

She was attracted to the Architecture program because it provided a unique student-work-life experience. “It’s a five year program with your first four years taking classes at the Eugene campus and your last year at a remote campus in Portland,” she explained. “They encourage students to live in an urban setting, find work at a local firm, attend class, and graduate with real-life work experiences under your belt.”

Just as she was guided by so many women in architecture, Mia looks forward to helping others achieve as well. Her advice centers on being governed by your passion. “You don’t have to have a specific skill to go into a design-related field. All my classmates had a wide range of backgrounds, and they all just wanted to incorporate their passion in their career.”

After college, she started working for a small firm in Sausalito designing single family homes. “It was a good experience because I learned a lot about the Bay Area community in terms of architecture and how to design on a smaller scale,” said Mia.

Now, she works for Gensler, a global architecture, design, and planning firm operating regionally out of Oakland. Her office specializes in office and workspace design. “It was kind of ironic during a pandemic when your workspace moved to a home office,” she said. “But now things are returning to the ‘normal’ and it’s been very interesting discussing, conceptualizing, and designing the workspace of the future.”

During the peak of the pandemic, Mia reconnected with her Carondo-roots. She met up with some friends from her old cross country running group at the alma mater and went on a run down memory lane on an old favorite trail. “My group was so fun. We weren’t the fastest, but we had a great time together and still stay in touch today,” she said. “It was fun to see how much the campus has changed and reminisce.”


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