Nour Borghol: award nominations, undergraduate and masters study at LSBU
Nour Borghol (BA (Hons) Architecture, 2019) won the LSBU Architecture Prize for her third-year undergraduate project and was nominated for the RIBA Bronze Award and the Architects Journal Student Prize. She is now studying for her masters here at LSBU.
My parents taught me the value of education right from the start. I'm so grateful to them for the opportunities they gave me, and the constant support. Whether I needed extra tutoring or just a hand to help me rise again if I failed. They were always there, reassuring me, encouraging me to follow my passion for architecture and giving me the confidence to believe that, with hard work and dedication, I can achieve my goals.
What appealed to me about LSBU was the wonderfully welcoming environment. The positive attitudes of the students and the supportiveness of the staff, coupled with the highly rated courses and the success rate for graduates in finding employment, were all incredibly inviting. And as an aspiring architect, I was really impressed by the Keyworth Building, the home of the School of the Built Environment and Architecture. I felt that this was an environment where I could thrive.
Diversity was definitely a factor for me too. I was born and raised in London, but I also embody my family's Lebanese cultural background. I really believe that diversity within the student and staff body elevates the educational experience, by exposing you to different perspectives and fresh ways of thinking. That can only enrich your approach to architecture and design.
There were times where I really needed to draw on the support of my tutors. Initially, entering a new institution and getting familiar with its systems was quite challenging. However, I was guided and supported by my tutors who helped me find ways to navigate around and settle in. Then towards the end of my second year I went through a difficult time personally. Initially, I tried to keep it to myself but when I began to struggle with my work, I realised I had to say something and I confided in my tutors. They were amazing, offering me as much help as I needed. That experience taught me a lot about the value of compassion and mutual respect.
Winning the LSBU Architecture Prize was a really proud moment for me . It felt like a real recognition for all the hard work I'd put in, particularly after such a tough year. It gave me a tremendous sense of achievement. It's also been great to be able to put it on my CV and talk about in job interviews. Now I'm studying for my masters, I feel like it's a motivator - I want to get the prize again! It's definitely encouraging, I think not only for myself but for the other students too. It inspires everyone to try that little bit harder.
This past year has been challenging - but also a valuable learning experience. After graduation, I got a job with Frognal Estates, a London estate agency that works in partnership with a firm of architects, Alan Ward, on construction projects of varying scales. Then COVID hit. Almost all the staff, including myself, had to shift to working virtually from home which is a pretty big adjustment in an industry where you're working in teams on and off a building site. That led to a slowdown in the work, which in turn encouraged my decision to go back to university to complete my master's degree. It hasn't been an easy year but it's taught me a lot about being adaptable, and finding the positives in any situation.
My goals are very simple: to be successful in my career as an architect, and to be happy. Professionally, one day I hope to be part of a progressive firm, with a diverse workforce, working on projects that will have a positive impact on society for many years to come. Personally, I aspire to be like my parents: my mother, so kind and thoughtful, and so persistent and passionate in everything she does; and my father, for his willpower, his drive and his ability to solve problems and overcome any hurdles in the way. I feel lucky and grateful to have such amazing role models in my life.
My advice to students coming to the end of their studies and starting out in the world is, be persistent. Keep going. Keep developing your skills and looking for opportunities to learn. Don't be afraid to take risks. And, most importantly, enjoy the process.