Architecture student finds passion for advocacy at Penn State

In Victoria “Tori” Monroe, the diverse student body of the Department of Architecture has a strong advocate. Monroe, a second-year architecture student, is the treasurer of Penn State's chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) and was recently elected as the chapter's vice president for 2023–24. With almost 100 student chapters nationwide, NOMAS aims to speak against apathy, bigotry, intolerance and ignorance; against abuse of the natural environment; and for the un-empowered, the marginalized and the disenfranchised. “With Penn State's chapter, we are striving to create an inclusive, safe and brave space for those who identify as minority or marginalized architects,” Monroe said. Coming to Penn State, Monroe said she never thought she would get involved with student advocacy, but that's exactly what she did after her best friend sent her an application to the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA). Almost two years later, Monroe is the Arts and Architecture representative for the UPUA 18th Assembly. “Advocating for students is the greatest thing about UPUA,” Monroe said. While she did not find her passion for advocacy until coming to college, Monroe always knew she wanted to be an architect. She traced that drive to her love for Legos and now wants to channel that passion into a career. To help her reach her goals of designing “affordable and equitable” buildings, Monroe said Penn State is teaching skills such as time management and providing her opportunities to explore different interests. Her involvement on campus is widespread, including UPUA, NOMAS and the Ambitions PSU dance team. “What am I involved in? A lot of things,” Monroe said. “NOMAS and being on my dance team are my favorite things, though.” To future Penn Staters, Monroe has a piece of advice: “Just keep going and know that progress isn't linear,” she said. “Progress is progress, and no matter what, you have to keep going.”

Schools and Departments: Department of Architecture