Phoebe Norcross ’13 Makes Her Voice Matter

Hutchison Now highlights recent graduates early in their careers who embody how a Hutchison education can lead anywhere you can imagine.  We spoke with Phoebe Norcross ’13, an architectural designer for Ennead Architects in New York.
Did attending an all-girls school prepare you for times at work when you are the only woman in the room

Going to an all-girls school taught me to pay attention to nuance in a conversation. The few times I have been on a male-dominated team, I've noticed the team often speaks over each other and competes for time to voice their opinions. Often the whole team agrees on what is important, and the underlying messages are the same, but a layer of nuance is needed to pull the ideas together. I love being able to help synthesize multiple ideas into one clear approach.

How did your Hutchison experience help you get to where you are today?

Hutchison equipped me with the curiosity to listen and ask questions. My biggest culture shock at the University of Arkansas was that even in some of my smaller classes, people were afraid to speak up. Hutchison taught me that any question or comment was a way to start a conversation and explore a subject more deeply. In college, I was always the first person to ask a question, not because I wanted credit, but because I wanted to make it easier for others to jump into the conversation.

During my first year working professionally, the roles reversed, and I realized everyone was willing to be the first person to speak. I took on a listening role to understand how the conversation dynamics work. As I grow more confident and comfortable at work, I speak up more intentionally when I actually know the answer to a question. When I don't know the answer to a question, I'm learning to ask follow-up questions to better understand what my colleagues need from me.

When did you decide to become an architect?

I was 5-years-old the first time someone asked me “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I said, “I want to be an architect.” My dad is an architect, and while he never pushed me toward the profession, he always demonstrated passion, excitement, and dedication to the work. As I got closer to college, I realized architecture had always been my default answer. I went through a lot of questioning trying to decide if I was pursuing architecture because my dad loves it so much or because I love it so much. Each profession I researched felt like something I could accomplish with architecture or something I could maintain in parallel to architecture. So, while I chose to be an architect when I was 5, it is a decision to which I have continued to make a commitment.

Why is it important to be able to pursue your interest in art during your free time? 

Creating art has always been an important part of my life. Art helps me explore thoughts and observations in a tangible way that I can't easily express in words. When I paint, draw, collage, and photograph my surroundings, I am capturing the beautiful parts of the world in a way that can be shared with other people. 

Phoebe Norcross ’13 received her Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arkansas in 2018. She joined Ennead Architects in New York City in 2018 as an architectural designer. She is pursuing her architecture license.

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