Meet Our 2024 CEA Awards and Recognition Ceremony Student Speakers

Arriel Barganier and Alrick Davis

Our Spring 2024 CEA Awards and Recognition Ceremony will feature two outstanding College of Engineering and Architecture (CEA) graduates selected from a group of candidates who submitted entries based on a set of criteria. Presenting this year are Arriel Barganier (B.S. Arch. ‘24) and Alrick Davis (BSChE ‘24). 

Through a set of broad interview questions, each of our student speakers has shared a brief account of their unique Howard University experience. 

Arriel Barganier (B.S. Arch. ‘24) served as an active member on the executive boards of several student organizations, most prominently in her roles as president of the Howard University collegiate chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (HU NOMAS) and chief of staff of the College of Engineering and Architecture Student Council, also serving her peers with her dedicated work for the American Institute for Architecture Students Howard University chapter (AIAS HU), the Howard University collegiate chapter for the National Society of Black Engineers (HU NSBE), Black Girls’ House and Georgia Club. 


What brought you to Howard? Why did you choose Howard? 
What drew me to Howard University is the remarkable community of people it nurtures and the caliber of its alumni. Howard has a reputation for fostering excellence and providing a solid foundation that equips you to succeed in any field you pursue. 
What sparked your interest in engineering, architecture and design? 
Throughout my school years, I excelled in math and science, earning the opportunity to represent my school at the Georgia State Science Fair several times. As a young African American girl from an underserved community, my success highlighted the potential that exists despite having fewer resources compared to wealthier neighboring counties. 

What childhood experiences influenced your path to becoming an architect? 
Growing up in an underserved community sparked my interest in architecture. In my neighborhood, it was evident how the built environment shaped people's actions and self-worth, often influenced by a lack of funding and neglect. I saw too many friends fall victim to the streets of Atlanta, trapped by limited opportunities and constrained by societal expectations. Architecture plays a crucial role in shaping people's perceptions of their own value, especially when the state of buildings and the safety of parks determine whether children can play freely, as many of us did, without fear. The concept of equity and feeling valued as a human being is something we all desire. I aspire to transform my community's landscape and tell its story—by us, for us, and about us. I want to reimagine our surroundings to reflect the dignity and potential that has always been there, just waiting for the right opportunity to thrive. 

What is your most memorable experience at Howard? 
One of my most memorable experiences at Howard was during my third year, when the Architecture department was selected to travel to Ghana with Howard University Alternative Spring Break (HUASB) for our spring studio project. This trip offered a unique opportunity to collaborate with Ghanaian architects and engage with local communities, immersing ourselves in their rich traditions and culture. It was a profoundly eye-opening experience that I believe none of us will ever forget.  

During this journey, I came to realize that my mission was much larger than myself. I saw firsthand the impact I could have on others, transcending cultural differences, and it deepened my commitment to making a meaningful contribution to the world. This experience was a pivotal moment, reinforcing my belief in the transformative power of architecture and its potential to bridge divides! 
What keeps you motivated? 
What keeps me motivated are the loved ones I've lost, both before and during my time at Howard—like my grandmother, my sister Jessica Daniels, and my brother Jonathan Patton. They were powerful sources of inspiration, and I strive to make them proud with everything I do. I also draw strength from my mom and the rest of my family back home, who support me unconditionally, even when I feel like I don't have the fight left in me to keep going. Their belief in me keeps me moving forward. Another thing that drives me is when people say I can't do something. There's a fire in proving them wrong. I relish the challenge of turning can't into can, showing them that I'm capable of achieving whatever I set my mind to. 

How does it feel to be graduating? 

I feel incredible. While I'll be returning to Howard in the fall to pursue my Master of Architecture, I'm thrilled to be closing this chapter of my life—one that I've worked so hard to complete. It's a moment of accomplishment, and I look forward to what's next with a mix of gratitude and anticipation.  

What's next for you? 
Next on my agenda is tackling my thesis project, which focuses on reimagining airport transit areas to enhance the passenger experience. I intend to bring fresh ideas to this space and challenge conventional thinking. Beyond that, I'm committed to breaking the glass ceiling for myself and for those who come after me, not just in architecture, but in related fields as well. I aim to create pathways for others and set new standards for what is possible.  

What advice would you give to your undergraduate peers? 
My biggest piece of advice is to be bold about what you want. Don't get bogged down by the how; just set your sights on where you want to go. As you begin your journey, you'll find that God—or whatever guiding force you believe in—will put the right people in your path to help you reach your goals, even when others try to stand in your way. Trust in the process and keep your focus on your aspirations. 


Alrick Davis (BSChE ‘24) served his peers well during his time at Howard University in various student leadership roles, as the 80th president of the Howard University Caribbean Students’ Association, director of the CEA Student Council’s Department of Advocacy and Diversity, and treasurer for the DC Alpha chapter of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society. 


What brought you to Howard? Why did you choose Howard? 
Howard has a profound reputation in Jamaica, boasting amazing alumni who are movers and shakers in several industries. As such, I was naturally drawn to Howard University, not just by the prolificity of the scholars but also by the legacy of impact they have fostered internationally. 

What sparked your interest in engineering, specifically chemical engineering? 
By chance, I had intended to pursue medicine because I knew I wanted to serve humanity, and I was convinced this was the only way to do it. However, I later discovered that this was wrong because engineering is socially conscious work, and I found myself drawn to the curiosity of pursuing engineering. Chemistry and mathematics were my favorite subjects in secondary school, so chemical engineering was a gamble and challenged me enough to foster a genuine interest. 

What childhood experiences influenced your path to becoming a chemical engineer? 
Jamaica is often viewed from the outside, looking in as a tropical utopia. However, residents have versions of hardships that limit the country’s potential, and witnessing my people thrive as they find solutions to tackle issues nurtured my love for problem-solving. I grew up watching my family having to innovate to tackle the issues of being in a marginalized community, especially issues surrounding water insecurities. I became an engineer to train my mind to tackle issues that help pull people from circumstances they cannot control and to shape a world where no man, woman, or child yearns for a basic need such as water. I chose chemical engineering because of its versatility as a discipline and because it is ingrained into the very fabric of society—it’s in the food we eat, the phones we speak on, the cars we drive, and the clothes we wear. 

What is your most memorable experience at Howard? 
My most memorable experience at Howard was being allowed to serve as the 80th president of the Howard University Caribbean Students’ Association in my senior year. Moving to a different city alone is hard enough; imagine a different country. This organization gave me the opportunity to touch lives and mentor some of Howard’s most brilliant students, students who innovate so naturally and without restrictions. In the warmth of fall, members would gather under the Caribbean tree on the Yard and share stories of their homes in the Caribbean. This was the true magic of Howard, worlds colluding and cultures merging so naturally. It gave me a home away from home, and I will forever be grateful. 

What keeps you motivated? 

My sacrifices and those of those who came before me keep me driven. I grew up watching my parents struggle to provide for my siblings and myself, so it feels only right to pay homage to their sacrifices by paying it forward. Concurrently, they taught me that as life goes on, our sacrifices will get bigger, so we should use them to drive our ambitions because just as there are bad times, good times will follow. The support of my friends and family pushes me to be my best self every day. So, sacrifices, support, and an intense fear of failure. 

How does it feel to be graduating? 
I’m mixed with so many emotions. Happy and blessed to be wrapping up such a rigorous part of my academic career, but also sad because this means this era has ended, and all the connections I’ve built here will be tested with distance. This journey has been far from easy, but it has taught me that nothing is beyond my reach.  

What's next for you? 
In the coming Fall semester, I will continue my studies as I pursue a PhD in biomedical and chemical engineering with a concentration in water systems and addressing water insecurities in developing communities. 

What advice would you give to your undergraduate peers? 
Don’t let imposter syndrome prevent you from dreaming too big. No dream is too big because the world is your oyster. You are a Howard student, molded in the image of revolutionaries and pioneers. Whatever aspirations you have are attainable, so never question your worth by considering that your dreams are beyond your grasp. Also, comparison is the thief of joy, so don't let it run away with yours. You are enough. 


Architecture, Chemical Engineering and College of Engineering and Architecture