Posted Wednesday 26 July 2017
With a passion for painting and drawing while at school, 19-year-old Maxine Minter always knew she wanted a career in design. It wasn't until a few years later, however, that she received her calling to architecture after volunteering to get involved with a local housing plan in her home area of Tottenham in Haringey, north London.
In 2011, the district had become subject to a regeneration proposal, feeding frustrations that sparked a number of violent riots. Two years later, at the tender age of 15, Maxine discovered the building she was living in was due to be torn down so she approached Haringey Council to ask for an opportunity to help her community.
She was delighted when the council secured her hands-on work experience with British architectural firm John McAslan + Partners, which had been assigned to work with local residents on plans for new housing. "I was living near Tottenham Stadium and when I heard of proposals to demolish the building I was living in, I wanted to get involved but also help those in my community who were facing the same housing issue," she explained.
– but when her A-levels didn't quite match her aspirations, she put in a call to Kingston University's Clearing hotline. "It was so good to speak to students and staff about my options – they gave me everything I needed on the day and helped to put my mind at ease," Maxine explained. "They were impressed by the work I'd done with Haringey Council and were prepared to give me a chance. Once I had the interview and looked around campus, I knew it was the right place for me."The experience she acquired from working with the council developed a passion to study architecture
Maxine has flourished in the first year of her studies at Kingston University's Kingston School of Art, embracing every activity that has come her way – including the chance to study during her next term at the University of Western Australia. "I always wanted to spend some time abroad, to gain an insight into different styles and spaces around the world, but I never thought I'd get the chance to go to Australia," she said. "The University has provided me with such an amazing opportunity and although it hasn't even really sunk in yet, I know it will be an amazing experience."
Senior lecturer in architecture Aoife Donnelly taught Maxine in what she described as her exceptional first year on the course. She encouraged anyone thinking of applying through Clearing to focus on getting themselves in the right frame of mind, as Maxine had. "I really enjoyed Maxine's lively and productive design process in her first year – she spent a lot of time gathering references and testing and experiencing space first hand – these are valuable activities for anyone thinking of studying architecture," she explained. "Compiling a portfolio and taking time to evaluate contemporary or historic spaces as well as taking sketches and critiquing what you see will help you to feel more engaged with the design process."
Maxine agreed with her tutor and advises students who might be in a similar situation as she was in last year not to be put off applying to university. "When making your decision about what to study, make sure it's the right course for you and then pick up the phone, regardless of what your results are," she said. "Above all, always go with your gut feeling – mine told me to put the call through to Kingston University and I'm so happy that I did."