Danielle McCleave has written her name in the history book as she becomes the first Black woman to earn a Doctorate in Architecture from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa School of Architecture.
Historically, architecture has been primarily white and male profession and it remains so. But people like Danielle have changed that and architects must represent all walks of life and cultural experiences and Danielle’s achievement is a significant step in that direction.
When she first found out she would be the first Black woman to obtain this degree, she was so emotional and excited because she knew this would encourage other Black women.
While she was proud of her achievement, she was also partly unhappy because she is the first and only Black woman. But this is a historical moment for the industry and she hopes it encourages other Black students to pursue the career as well.
Danielle earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in sculpture and painting from B mont University in Nashville, Tennessee. She then continued her studies at UH Mānoa, where she won the Hawai’i Architectural Foundation award for her thesis on housing titled “Redesigning the Hood: Using Culturally Aware Wellness as a Tool to Inform Architectural Design.”
Now, she is focused on researching fair housing and culturally aware design practices in architecture while still incorporating her art into it.
Danielle says that she is grateful for the support of her loved ones, teachers, family, friends, and peers that helped her push through. She said she is also looking forward to the future of UH Mãnoa “as it becomes more and more diverse and equitable.”