College Series – Helna on Syracuse University

Beginning in 2021, the ACE GNY Ambassador Program tasks ACE GNY Alumni  at popular architecture and engineering colleges with being a resource on campus for new students. Leading up to our College Fair on 10/19, Ambassadors have written up blog posts about their colleges for prospective students to read through before meeting colleges at the fair. 

Syracuse University 

My name is Helna Zhen and I am a current 5th year thesis student in Syracuse University’s B.Arch program with a minor in Construction Management. Joining ACE as a high school junior and senior was the best decision I made to jumpstart my architectural pursuits and network. When applying and searching for architecture colleges, it was helpful for me to compare colleges in terms of financial aid/scholarships, program curriculum, study abroad opportunities, thesis/research opportunities, competition opportunities, career connections, NAABa ccreditation, and options to minor in complementary fields relating to architecture. Although not many students may consider studying abroad when applying for colleges, Syracuse Architecture has an exceptional study abroad program in New York City, London, Florence and Visiting Critic studios in Syracuse, immersing students into new cultures, providing diverse learning opportunities, internship programs and special site visits to analyze remarkable architecture allover the world. In addition, not only does SU offer a great bundle of learning experience through study abroad, but also specialized professional elective courses taught by bogosian fellows, visiting critics, and professors, clubs such as AIAS, ASO, NOMAs, etc and opportunities to compete in competitions.

Regarding SU’s connection’s, the School of Architecture has a great internship summer program and study abroad internship program to help students get connected and find job opportunities. Similar to ACE’s alumni program, the school sets up career fairs and interview opportunities to obtain full time and internship offers. One of the biggest opportunities Syracuse University’s B.Arch program offers that other schools may not offer is thesis research and sponsorships through source grants.

During my time at SU’s B.Arch program, my extracurriculars in school included being treasurer of American institute of Architecture Students club and interning for my professors’ firm at Architecture Office. As a member of AIAS’s board, I was able to embrace architecture through firm crawls, coffee and crits and connect with other students to do collaborative work. Aside from AIAS, I was able to intern for my professor’s firm to produce digital and physical models for their Swissness Applied exhibition/lecture. Being part of an exhibition project aided in developing my craft towards model fabrication to communicate design and concepts. With my minor in Construction Management at SUNY ESF, it bettered my understanding of the essential processes and relationships connecting construction and architecture. Other available minors to consider during the college search may include real estate and sustainable construction management. Overall, I personally love SU’s School of Architecture’s extracurriculars because it promotes student growth and development in their own interests along with keeping options open for different modes of design and research.


Helna Zhen is a fifth-year Architecture student at Syracuse University. This summer, Helna interned at Perkins Eastman. Helna is an ACE GNY Alumni.

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