How a Young Woman in Architecture Reimagined Her Potential

Young woman holding a Colorado College flag. Quotation says, "I'm so happy that JA Business Week taught me to approach everything with a positive, inclusive mindset."

The spirit of entrepreneurship is guided by ingenuity, perseverance and an eagerness to learn – qualities that Junior Achievement (JA) alumna Shaian Gutierrez possesses wholeheartedly. Gutierrez participated in JA Business Week and JA Finance Park, presented by Transamerica, and received the JA Inspiration Scholarship in 2018. She plans to pursue her passion for STEM and become an architect.

“I’ve always been told I have an active imagination. When I was younger, I drew out the floor plans in buildings,” Gutierrez remembers. When looking toward the future, she says, “I don’t think there are enough big-name architects who are women, and my dream is to help pave the way.”

To achieve this dream, Gutierrez is studying pre-architecture at Colorado College (CC) and plans to earn her Master’s degree from University of Colorado Denver.

Gutierrez’s ability to think outside the box served her well at JA Business Week, where obstacles arise constantly. However, it took a few days before she warmed up to the group. Several students at JA Business Week already seemed to know each other and Gutierrez felt like an outsider. Then she made the decision to change her perspective, and her fears subsided.

“At some point,” says Gutierrez, “I realized how much that mentality was holding me back, and immediately put in an effort to meet as many people as I could before the end of the week.”

This newfound courage opened the door for more effective problem-solving and collaboration with her team. “When my company came across the problem, I’d be the one to suggest, ‘Why don’t we try this instead?’ It took working up the confidence to start recommending alternative ideas, but once I realized how helpful they were, I couldn’t stop,” Gutierrez says.

Starting college in a new city was another unfamiliar challenge, but this time, Gutierrez was ready to dive in. She says, “I came into college with the same state of mind, and am so happy that JA Business Week taught me to approach everything with a positive, inclusive mindset. JA taught me how to be confident.”

The JA Inspiration Scholarship helps fund Gutierrez’s education at CC, which has become her ideal learning environment. Her inquisitive nature is a perfect fit for CC’s educational model, the “block plan,” where students take one class at a time for an intensive three-and-a-half-week period.

Problem-solving skills are especially crucial in STEM careers. Gutierrez will surely succeed in her field as she faces her challenges with optimism and self-assurance.