By Renarda Williams | Photography by Sarah Oden | Hair by Haydon Howard with Face Your Day Xpress | Makeup by Justine Torres with Face Your Day Xpress | Shot on location at Riviera Condominiums
When Amanda Sturgell was a child, she would watch her grandfather – who was a carpenter by trade – work. “Seeing him creating — putting things together to create a larger design — fascinated me,” Amanda says. “From there, I loved to draw and play with Legos, and at some point asked my parents for graphing paper for Christmas so I could keep drawing houses for my friends.”
Amanda pursued a career as an architect, a profession in which the number of women and people of color has traditionally been low. She’s an associate of Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects in Little Rock and serves as a spokesperson and fundraiser for the Alex Foundation. Amanda will welcome guests to Bubbles & Bon Bons to celebrate the important mission fulfillment work of the Alex Foundation throughout the state.
Established in 2010 by Angela Courtney after the death of her son Alex Courtney, who studied architecture in college, the foundation provides youth with opportunities to learn about architecture, design and the built environment. Throughout the school year, Alex Foundation hosts a STE+AM in Architecture Program (science, technology, engineering, art plus architecture and math) for eighth-grade and ninth-grade students as well as two summer camps. At the architecture and design camp, offered exclusively to girls in McGehee – July 15-19 – students will explore the old Missouri Pacific Railroad train depot, now repurposed into the Japanese American Internment Museum and Railroad Depot Museum. Students at a co-ed camp, July 22-26 in Lake Village, will also explore historic buildings. In addition, the foundation will partner with the Fay Jones School of Architecture, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, for an on-campus summer design experience June 8-14 and July 8-12.
A 2009 graduate of the Fay Jones School, Amanda has been a project architect for the Bank of Cave City headquarters, Arkansas State Parks’ Jacksonport Visitors Center and a ninth-floor renovation at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Jones Eye Institute. She’s currently renovating and designing Entergy service centers throughout Arkansas.
Amanda refers to her civic leadership with the Alex Foundation as “a happy accident.” Angela asked Amanda to step into the McGehee summer camp due to an unexpected cancellation. “I was due to be in McGehee for a site visit for Entergy on the exact day she needed someone,” Amanda remembers. “The camp was well run, and the girls were so inquisitive and engaged in building their models.”
Although the number of women and people of color in architecture has increased, “there is still a long way to go to ensure that all voices are truly represented in our profession,” Amanda says. “By hosting their design camps free of charge in rural Arkansas, the Alex Foundation is helping to bridge that gap. I’m excited and grateful to spread the word about the good work the Alex Foundation is doing.”