Detroit Mercy minority architecture group wins national award

On Oct. 14, Detroit Mercy’s National Organization of Minority Architecture Students chapter won the National Chapter of the Year Award for the 2022-23 school year. 

Student members and organization leaders traveled to Portland, Ore., for their national conference from Oct. 11-15, where they were recognized for their accomplishments and efforts throughout the past year. It was described by former NOMAS President Angel Mangham as “a complete redemption.”

Now a graduate advisor and project manager in her fifth year at the University, Mangham blossomed in her role after taking on the initiative of helping NOMAS reach new heights.

“What sets us apart from other NOMAS student chapters is our desire for collaboration, growth, and spreading the message of acknowledgment and inclusivity,” she wrote in her application for the award.

Through fundraising, organizing events and meeting new and diverse people who share her passion, Mangham quickly discovered that she could make a real difference within her once somewhat secluded community. 

“I really tried my hardest to make this organization helpful to our students and something that people would want to join,” Mangham said.

She highlighted several memories during her time as president that stood out to her, including taking students for Architecture Design Firm tours, free professional headshot day and a Black History Month installation with quotes by African American leaders in the architecture industry.

In addition to the organization becoming more active and involved with the community, there was a significant increase in members and stronger social media presence in the 2022-23 academic year, according to Mangham.

Going into the conference, despite her commendable efforts, she admitted that she had no expectations of winning. The team sat through the main event, which was a design competition, followed by a series of awards of recognitions.

“My phone was down but I was still recording,” Mangham said. “Then they said our name…I jumped up and just started screaming. We were all in shock.” 

In attendance with Mangham was current Vice President of the NOMAS Chapter, junior Derrick Williams, who shared the same shock and sense of accomplishment.

After being recommended by Mangham and then elected as VP, Williams has prioritized the expansion of his chapter and the School of Architecture. 

“The connections and the confidence that I’ve helped build for our first-year students and newer members has been exciting for me,” he said.   

Williams also shared that following the success of this previous chapter, he plans on heavily pushing student design competitions so that they grow and learn as a team leading up to next year’s conference, where he hopes to continue a winning streak and uphold current standards.  

“I’m doing this for the students; I want to give them opportunities to grow both personally and professionally,” he said. “For each of the newcomers, it’s our job to teach them.” 

With NOMAS originating in Detroit, Mangham felt a personal responsibility to make her chapter meaningful and one of passion-filled explorations. In accordance with being awarded Chapter of the Year, it seemed as if the bar was raised for future chapter leaders and organizers.

“I was still excited, but I felt anxious because now it was my job to carry that on and do it again,” Williams said.