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Jonathon Ammon, MArch ’11

Phoenix, Arizona

Founder, JammonStudios

Future Architect/Leader,

I empathize with the anxiety and apprehensions you currently face. A tough deck of cards—a fact of life right now. You've completed an incredibly rigorous program that has primed you for limitless opportunity. Head high, I am excited for you!

Our class graduated in 2011, also a concerning time. My takeaways and suggestions:

Become an ACE in as many softwares as you possibly can (Revit, Navisworks, anything to enable the Architect/Engineer & Builder to more effectively collaborate).

Proficiency and fluency in software does NOT corner you into a specific type of work or production role. It is YOUR responsibility to navigate the circumstances of your passions, career, and positions you will take.

Acquaint yourself with the funding sources for the market sectors in our economy and more specifically, from WHERE will those funding sources originate. This will yield an understanding of where future architectural opportunities exist (for example, medical versus retail).


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Will Bloomer, MArch ’14


Associate, David Baker Architects

Don't fret, 2020. Challenges present unique opportunities for design! You are all now equipped to help and to make the world a better, more efficient, and more equitable place for all. Consider this time a call for action!

Be proud, be patient, and congratulations! I am excited to see your contributions start to take root!

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Shuai Cao, MArch ’14

Seattle, Washington

Dear Class of 2020,

I have been in mostly "stay home" life since January this year because of the challenging time. My biggest take away from it is that we can't be isolated by physical distance or barrier; we are eager to connect with others. And nothing could be more cheerful than getting a greeting from a friend or family living far everyday. Please stay strong and support your loved ones, as well as yourself. At the end of the crisis, we will be even closer to each than anytime before.

I'm proud to be a graduate from Sam Fox School, and my friends and professors since then have always been supporting me in many situations. Same to all of you! I will be here if you need any help.

Best wishes and congratulations to your coming graduation!

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Anonymous, Class of 2010, BFA ’10 (Printmaking, Drawing)

Los Angeles, California

Assistant Curator, Skirball Cultural Center

I suspect when you thought about graduating with your BFA, you probably were not imagining that you'd be showing your work digitally and having your final crits on Zoom. Regardless, the hard facts of these strange times do not detract from what you have accomplished. You have worked hard, bonded with your classmates, and certainly you've learned something along the way, I hope.

I hope that you will continue to work through this difficulty to turn it into a rich source for your practice, as artists have always done. Design lifesaving devices, speak truth to power, ferment new expressive movements, and create beautiful (yes, I said it) images, objects, and products that will bring comfort and joy to people who need it.

Most of all, I hope you cherish your special tribe of art school weirdos, even if it's just over a computer screen. Hopefully you can reunite in person soon enough!

Until then, I hope you and your loved ones stay healthy, and please stop touching your face so much.

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Anonymous Class of 2012, BFA ’12 (Communication Design)

Brooklyn, New York

Congratulations, Class of 2020, potentially the first class to complete capstone projects and thesis programs during a global pandemic! May you graduate into a world that's ready to hear your ideas and receive your help. Warmest wishes and congratulations!

Anonymous, Class of 2012, BS ’12 (Architecture)

Anonymous, Class of 2012, BS ’12 (Architecture)

A time of crisis is an important time to reflect on your values and goals. Take this opportunity to look inwards. Nothing is more valuable than knowing where you stand and where you are headed.

Remember to give kindness to yourself! And always give kindness to others. Let kindness permeate all that you do.

When faced with difficulty and stress, remember there is always a different way. Recognize that everything can change and takes time to change, sometimes a very long time.

Learn from every step along the way. Nothing you do is futile, especially those that seem decidedly useless or routine. Be open-minded and look harder. There's always something more.

Life can be challenging, but you are never alone! Don't be afraid to ask for help, and try to help others. Bring out the courage in yourself, and all problems will eventually pass.

You have a long bright journey ahead of you. This is just one small step. Think long-term and don't forget the present. I sincerely wish you the very best!

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Anonymous, Class of 2013, BFA ’13 (Fashion Design)

Dallas, Texas

I can't imagine how difficult this last few weeks have been for you all. I hope that you know that you have a community of alumni in your corner. If you need something, don't hesitate to reach out.

This time brings all kinds of challenges, not just financial, but also mental. During this time, I've found myself returning to art and creativity. I make things for myself to focus my anxious energy. And I enjoy seeing the community of musicians, artists, cooks, designers, makers come together to create things that are needed, both emotionally and physically, out of limited supplies. That has been inspiring. So, while it isn't the end of the year you had envisioned, know that your art is something you will always have and be able to take with you no matter what. Wishing you all the best!

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Katie Ehrlich, BFA ’18 (Communication Design)

New York, New York

Associate Designer, Sarankco

While it was nontraditional, congrats to the Class of 2020 on graduating! Finishing senior year from quarantine is just further showing how your class can overcome challenges. I have faith that you all will come out of this crisis both as stronger people and better artists! People will need art more than ever during this time, so take advantage of your new skills! Lots of love from the Class of 2018.

Pierre-Henri Hoppenot, BA ’09 (Architecture); MArch ’12

Pierre-Henri Hoppenot, BA ’09 (Architecture); MArch ’12

Brooklyn, New York

Founder, Studio PHH Architects

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger? Maybe not in this case but I believe this moment affords us a chance to re-evaluate our goals and to gain the perspective required for happiness and success; a rare break in the rat race that most graduating seniors from a top school like Wash U (me included) are likely to join.

Spend the free time that is forced upon each of us by this event to focus on what does make you stronger. For me these are as follows and each is actionable:

  1. Strengthen the relationships made over the last several years and remember that each plays a critical yet often unpredictable role in our lives.
  2. Write down life goals: create "mantras" that allow you to look back at the past and look forward to your future with certainty that you are working towards the goals you wanted for yourself.
  3. Giving is the most rewarding, and the rewards come in many forms. The world is big and we are in this together.
  4. Invest in knowledge. Your head is your greatest asset.
Meenakshi Jha, MFA ’19

Meenakshi Jha, MFA ’19

St. Louis, Missouri

Let my personal story be my message:

I am an immigrant mother-artist who lost her only job and a major art-public speaking opportunity. But I continue to create, perhaps to stay sane, and for my child.
In difficult times, it is our art that keeps us alive. Keep creating. This too shall pass.

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Donna Jones, MFA ’11 (Studio Art)

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Director of Recruitment and Outreach, University of Arkansas School of Art

Hello Class of 2020!

I hope you are all well and safe during this time. There are no words to make sense of this. And I'm also not going to try to chalk it up to a "new normal," as this is far from anything we could have expected.

What I will do is tell you that you are incredible. In a time that should be stressful because of mostly good things that come along with graduation and exhibitions, you've had to pivot to now addressing needs that may have come up for you about food insecurity, unemployment, health care, all while trying to stay productive and mentally healthy.

But we're artists. Navigating complex situations with few resources: We've been there. When given a task, we are resourceful and understand that the work takes time. Please know that I am thinking of you and hope that you're doing okay. Things will not always be this way, but I have to hope that we'll come out better and more connected.

Stay safe and hopeful, and ask for help! We're here!

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Stephen Kim, MArch ’11

Seattle, Washington

Associate, SKB Architects

I graduated at the end of 2011 when the global economy began to recover from the Great Recession of 2008. Design services and construction were still impacted, and layoffs were all too common to be considered news. It was a daunting time to be graduating since many alumni a year or two ahead had yet to find a job or left the architecture field altogether. And a little more then a decade later, the architecture world is experiencing deja vu.

As someone who survived the 2008 crisis, I say, you will survive, too. Think of bad economical times as a design problem and what ways the architecture industry can be more resilient. Use this opportunity to equip yourself with the learned academic skills because design and critical thinking are tools that can be used beyond the architectural field. Architecture is bigger than what you mind think it is.

James Morgan, MArch ’11

James Morgan, MArch ’11

Austin, Texas

Go Bears! Rawrr!
If you have any free time in this once-in-a-generation situation, do whatever you can to address the issue of student loan forgiveness; that is the true fight of our generation. There were a bunch of us who graduated during the last recession, and we have turned out ok. Well, turned out ok, meaning we could all at least afford a trip back to St Louis in 2018.

Just remember that, as artists and architects, we use our creativity best when in context. So use the knowledge the faculty has shared and the skills and resources the Sam Fox School has provided, and go forth! Go forth in this unique context. Pencils Down!


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Kim Morski, BFA ’10 (Printmaking)

Denver, Colorado

Dear Class of 2020,

You have worked so hard for four years. Congratulations on all that you have accomplished! I hope to encourage you that, although it is a huge loss not to celebrate what you've worked for with your peers, you have much to celebrate ahead.

One lesson I have learned in this crisis is artists have a unique ability to transform darkness into light. We are trained to use our creativity to see the world in a different way that opens up possibility. Though I don't believe anyone needs to prove how productive they can be in this strange time, approaching each day's limitations with creativity can be transformative. I have been able to make new work from home, with a more spontaneous spirit, enjoying the discovery of simple beauty.

I hope you can find new reserves of strength, resolve, and innovation for this season and beyond. Let the art we make, and the fact that we make it, be a protest against despair and a sign of resilience and hope in the world.

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Michael Offerman, BA ’12 (Architecture), MBA ’13 (Brand Strategy)

Strategy Director, Redscout

Class of 2020:

You are entering a wild world, and while it may seen daunting, I'd argue you are better prepared for it than many of your peers who studied in other fields. A design background has taught you how to think laterally, solve problems from many angles, and find elegant solutions to challenging contexts.

This isn't going to be an easy few months, but have the confidence in your own creativity—both in the work you create and your approach to finding your next challenge. Know that you have the support of the Sam Fox network at your back.

Go try something crazy and take some career risks in the midst of this uncertainty. You'll undoubtably make something brilliant out of it!

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Faith Pang, BFA ’19

Hey guys!

I know it's disappointing to not be able to end your year with your BFA show with all your friends and family there, but stay strong and enjoy your time at home. This is a very important and special time in the world, and as artists, we can use this to fuel our work, to drive our projects and create meaning, to make people think. There is a silver lining in every situation.

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Felicia Podberesky, BFA ’13 (Fashion Design)

New York, New York

In the past couple of weeks, I have found myself referring back to times at Sam Fox much more than I ever thought I would. From creating a virtual studio to mimic days at Sam Fox, to referencing a reading I learned in a class, to pushing myself like I know one of my professors would have, I have never been more grateful for the community and impact WashU and Sam Fox had on me.

Keep that momentum going for yourselves. The value of WashU and Sam Fox transcends your physical studio space, the WashU campus, and St. Louis itself. Leverage the community around you and the tools you've been given to allow yourself to push your work and the limits of your work even farther than it would have gone during the last days of a "regular" semester.  Push your classmates and professors with the power of what you can produce in this time. I think you will all surprise yourselves with what you find is possible.

Oh, and remember. Getting dressed each day is power in itself (fashion design alum here).

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Patricia Sanchez de Andrei, MArch ’11

St. Louis, Missouri

Architect, Christner Architects

Class of 2020—CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve accomplished so much, and I am proud of you.

We are here for you and celebrate you despite these difficult times. It’s unfortunate that we cannot be together in person to celebrate you, but your accomplishments do not go unnoticed. To complete this prestigious degree, you had to have a lot of resilience, endurance, and perseverance—all skills necessary now and throughout your career. Starting your careers this way is not ideal, obviously, but your Sam Fox community is here for you. Those of you still in St. Louis, do not hesitate to contact me for anything. If I can’t help, I can find someone who will. The design community is very tight, and we have each other’s back. You’re our colleagues now and know that we have your back, too.

Much love to the Class of 2020.  Wishing you continued strength.

Patricia Sanchez de Andrei, AIA, EDAC
MArch, Class of 2011

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Shannon Slade, BS ’15 (Architecture)

Congrats Class of 2020!! Happy for you and proud of you, and hope you have a wonderful graduation day.

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Maja Tokic, MArch ’11

Baltimore, Maryland

Although the situation we're in now is unprecedented, soon you'll be out in the workforce. Value yourself. Wages haven't gone up in over a decade so don't accept initial low offers which will put you in a financial struggle for years. Advocate for yourself and the profession—never work for free. Don't deify the old guard; know that the future lies in you and your ideas.

Marla Wallerstein, BFA ’88 (Printmaking)

Marla Wallerstein, BFA ’88 (Printmaking)

Chicago, Illinois

Owner/Designer, MarLa Studio

You are better positioned and more technologically skilled than all preceding classes. Use your immense powers of creativity to unleash the elegant ingenuity our time calls for and deserves. No matter the challenges, this time will be what calls you to fully utilize your proven emotional and intellectual capacity beyond what you believe possible. The privileged gift of your experience will be your infinite treasure, a reservoir of resourceful strength to tap for the rest of your lives. You are the now and the future. There is never a good time; there is never a bad time. All there is is time and how you craft it. All my best to all of you dreamers: Shine on, you crazy diamonds.

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Nash Waters, MArch ’14

New York, New York

Weiss/Manfredi Architecture Landscape Urbanism

Dear Class of 2020,

I'm sure this has been a challenging time for you, your family, friends, and colleagues. It has really been a difficult time for all of us, as we constantly adjust to this new, surreal reality. However, we are, like you all, still busy at work, drawing from our home desks and kitchen tables. We are continuing to collaborate, but at a distance.

These are far from ordinary times. The rapid spread of this virus has thrown everyday life into a fragile and delicate balance. But this won't last forever.

We look forward to the day when we can, once again, throw open the doors of our studios and welcome people back inside.  In the meantime, stay safe, keep connected, and take care of one another. Be kind. Be generous. And, above all, be a good citizen.

Best wishes,
Nash Waters

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Abby Wong, BA ’19 (Architecture)

Congratulations, Class of 2020! To my ArchiThots, I've had the honor of taking studio with many of you, and each semester, I have been mesmerized by the joy, the talent, and the love each of you have to share with this world. The world shines brighter and looks better (quite literally) because of you.

Congratulations, my friends. You all deserve so much celebration. I miss and cherish each of you. Go celebrate and get some sleep!