Sarah Neville was introduced to architecture as a kid when her father would take her to downtown Chicago to visit the museums.
Neville loved these trips and developed an appreciation for all styles of design due to Chicago’s patchwork nature. However, it didn’t dawn on her until she was already in college that she could major in architecture.
Unsure of what to study, Neville chose College of DuPage because she didn’t want to go into debt on an expensive institution while she figured out a career.
“I was looking for a major that was both scientific and artistic in nature and stumbled upon architecture,” Neville said. “I ended up staying at COD because once I chose architecture, I felt like I was in extremely good hands with instructors Jane Ostergaard and Mark Pearson. I still feel as though I made the right decision.”
After graduating from COD with an associate degree in Pre-Architecture, Neville transferred to Bowling Green State University to continue her studies. She then went on to graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has worked in several different firms, including Tigerman McCurry Architects and Northworks Architects + Planners, and on several different project types, including designing custom houses and commercial properties.
After several years in the field, Neville realized she wanted to focus on more interiors-focused projects, so she made the transition to EWP Architects, a corporate interiors firm located in Oak Brook. She also worked alongside fellow COD graduate John Benoit, and the two are now at BE Architects, which creates engaging spaces through collaboration.
Her career aspiration is to be a partner in a highly creative firm that combines architecture and interiors. She’s working on becoming licensed to make her dream a reality.
Neville credits the COD Architecture program for being successful in her professional career.
“The COD Architecture program really set me up to succeed both academically and professionally,” Neville said. “The facilities and technology available to students are second to none, and as a result I found that when I transferred to a four-year program that my technical knowledge was above and beyond that of my peers.
“Perhaps most importantly are the professors who provide the education. Jane, Mark and the other professors have decades of industry and teaching experience and are the best professors I had in my academic career. They were more than willing to help with schoolwork, guide me through the transfer process and give me advice with professional pursuits. To this day, I still think COD was the best way I could have spent my first two years in the world of architecture, and I’m incredibly grateful for the foundation that COD provided me.”
Her advice to students considering COD’s Architecture program is to become an active participant.
“Get to know your professors, join clubs, go on field trips and firm visits, and perhaps most importantly, make friends with your classmates. The friends I made at COD challenged and encouraged me and made the long nights in studio not only bearable but enjoyable. I’m not sure I would have made it through without my friends.”