Campus News - February 12, 2001
First MLA graduate paves way
by Carolyn Gonzales
All Maura Lewiecki wanted was to have her Masters in Landscape Architecture
(MLA) before she became a grandma. When she started on her quest to earn it
in 1994, no such program existed at UNM. That wouldnt stop her. After
six years, she became the programs first graduate and was a driving force
behind creating, developing and establishing the program within the School of
Architecture and Planning.
Lewiecki had both a bachelors and masters in psychology when she took
a Continuing Education course on designing your own landscape.
My husband and I were building a new house and I wanted to develop my
own residential landscape. From there my interest grew, says Lewiecki.
She went on to become a master gardener through the county Cooperative Extension
Service. Ive always worked with plants. Although I didnt know
at the time that it probably wasnt legal, I used to go dig up plants in
the mountains and bring them back and plant them at my house, she says.
Wanting more, she interviewed with Architecture and Planning faculty members
Stephen Schreiber and Paul Lusk who told her they would support her and allow
her to be the MLA guinea pig.
Even though I already had both a BA and MA, I retook some courses and
took some physics, calculus and drawing, she says. She also enrolled in
Baker Morrows courses on landscape planning. The school offered a planning
graduate degree program with an emphasis on landscape, but not a complete education
in landscape architecture, she says.
The program was good. The teaching was excellent, but I knew the MLA
would make me marketable and prepare me for the formidable licensing exam,
Course by course, year by year Lewiecki pursued the degree. My family
thought I was never going to graduate, she recalls, adding that she ended
up with credits more than double the norm. In 1999, she became a grandma.
Architecture and Planning Dean Roger Schluntz went to the Commission on Higher
Education on her behalf after she assisted with the necessary paperwork to make
the case for the MLA at UNM.
Finally, in 2000, Lewiecki graduated and UNM had its MLA program. I worked
with the system, opening doors so that others may follow, she says. She
continues to recruit students to the program and is helping to see it becomes
Currently Lewiecki works for the landscape architectural firm Sites Southwest.
The companys principal architect is George Radnovich, past president of
the New Mexico chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Lewiecki
says he was very supportive and that he, and others in his field, are eager
to hire the new landscape architects as soon as they graduate.
As a landscape architect, I can help the world become a better place,
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico USA
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