Throughout his life, Carmine Calabria considered many career choices, most revolving around being innovative, creative and thinking outside of the box.
“From wanting to be a PIXAR animator to becoming an engineer, it took a few years until I narrowed down my creative passions to architecture after taking numerous AutoCAD and 3-D Modeling classes during high school,” he said. “I was slightly unsure if this was the path I wanted to take with my career, so my enrollment at College of DuPage was an economical decision to test the waters of my interest in architecture.”
After his first semester in the Architecture program, Calabria knew he was selecting the right career.
“It was amazing to see my designs become a reality,” he said. “I am very lucky to have landed in a program that offers so much. COD has a quality Architecture program taught by great professors who put much care into guiding students to success.”
After earning his Pre-Architecture Associate in Applied Science degree, Calabria transferred with no issues to the Illinois Institute of Technology.
“Transitioning to IIT was challenging because it was a different environment, but after assimilating into it I excelled in the program,” he said. “There is no doubt that the COD Architecture program prepared me far beyond some of IIT’s expectations. I often resorted back to the techniques and approaches to my design work taught by both my first- and second-year studio professors. I am still amazed at how smoothly I was able to transfer from COD to IIT.”
Throughout college, Calabria worked at a UPS Store, and during his final year at IIT, he met the HR director of Wight & Company there. He eagerly spoke with her and, with a line of customers out the door, handed her his resume and portfolio in hopes of securing a possible position after graduation. Instead, he was called for an interview the next day and hired as a part-time intern.
“I did not plan for this but I took the opportunity because this was something that I wanted badly,” he said.
Calabria completed the professional Bachelor of Architecture degree and graduated cum laude. He continues to work at Wight & Company as a full-time architectural designer.
“What I didn't know when I was first hired was that Wight & Company designed a number of COD’s beautiful buildings,” he said. “It’s funny to think that I now will have the opportunity to pay it forward by designing spaces that could make a difference in another student’s life.”
Calabria, who is working toward his architectural licensing exams, did have an opportunity to work on a project for COD when he was part of the design team for the Cleve Carney Museum of Art expansion, which was completed in spring 2020. He would enjoy being involved with COD’s Architecture program in some way and currently plays with the COD Community Jazz Ensemble.
He strongly encourages others considering architecture as a career to give COD a try.
“The design projects you will have in studio are far beyond the norm of any community college offering architecture,” he said. “It will challenge you as a student, but it will prepare you for the demanding expectations of most architecture schools and in the field, and I am very thankful for that.
“Overall, I couldn't be happier with where I am right now. I would do nothing different, and I’m truly blessed. When I tell people about my journey, I’m always sure to express to them that starting at COD was the best choice I could have made to get to where I am today. I thank the entire COD architecture staff for giving me such a solid background. They are the best!”
Click on the above picture for a video about Carmine Calabria