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Stephanie Ireland, M.Arch ’14, Expands Her Business With BAC Education

Stephanie Ireland, M.Arch ’14

Stephanie Ireland, M.Arch ʼ14, knew she was destined to be an architect. Her father was a high school woodshop teacher and her mother was an Interior Design professor. She remembers working with her dad during the summer, assisting him on different jobs making ceiling fan blades, running a drill press, and building pole barns. From an early age, her father and mother instilled in Stephanie a strong work ethic, telling her that if she set her mind to do something, she could do anything. This work ethic and can-do attitude led Stephanie to The Boston Architectural College (BAC), where she was able to earn her Master of Architecture degree and expand her business to multiple states.

A bright student, Stephanie skipped two grades in school and graduated from Bloomington High School in Bloomington, IL, at the end of her junior year. At the age of sixteen, she started in the Architectural Program at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. After three years in the program, Stephanie was burnt out. She transferred colleges and changed her major to music. A year into her new pursuit, she moved to Springfield, MO, to attend Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) where her mother was a professor, and changed her course again. In 1987, Stephanie graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Architectural Technology, an individualized degree that is unaccredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

"I knew at the time that since I did not graduate with a NAAB accredited degree I would have to take the ‘long road' if I wanted to become an architect," says Stephanie. "At that time in Missouri, I was required to document twelve years of internship before I was eligible to take the ARE. I did my time, took my exam, and earned my license in Missouri in 2000. I was very dedicated and determined."

In 1995, Stephanie opened a drafting business. Once she earned her architectural license, she turned it into an architectural firm, Ireland Architects. As Stephanie's business grew, job offers came in from other states, obliging her to partner with another architect because her license only allowed her to work in Missouri. Stephanie knew she needed to go back to school to get her Master of Architecture. Her business's future and expansion outside of Missouri depended on it.

"I called a couple universities to discuss the possibility of enrolling but to no avail. I remember one university literally laughed at me when I suggested attending their program, because I did not physically live there, as well as telling me that I would never find an out-of-state program that would admit me!"

One evening Stephanie was reading an architecture magazine and came across an ad for the BAC's online Master of Architecture program. "I remember seeing the ad and thinking ‘This could be it!'" says Stephanie. "The BAC was perfect because it would allow me to keep running my firm while going to school. I applied and the rest is history."

Stephanie's BAC experience was invigorating and memorable. "I was old enough to be most of my cohorts' mother and yet we all got along famously. I still keep in touch with many of them. They helped me learn new programs, while I helped them with structures and gave advice about being female in this male-dominated industry. I had so much respect for my instructors because they were licensed architects and had amazing educational and experiential backgrounds. They shared practical experiences that were pertinent to my daily work life. I treasure every moment and am proud of the work I accomplished while in school and after school."

Stephanie has always felt it was important to encourage and support women in the male-dominated architecture field. While Stephanie was studying at the BAC, one her employees saw how Stephanie was able to balance work and school and she decided to go back to school herself. "She had a two-year degree in drafting and is married with two kids," Stephanie says. "I'm so honored that I was able to inspire her and support her as she went back to school to earn her architectural degree."

Since graduating from the BAC in 2014, Stephanie has steadily grown her business, completing work in Arkansas and Kansas, and she has begun talks with potential clients in Texas and Oklahoma. "I am very grateful for the opportunities the BAC gave me. The BAC helped me remember why I got into this profession in the first place. I now hold licenses is several states and have been able to use my degree to expand my business. The BAC renewed my passion to be an architect and I'm so excited to expand my business more and take on projects that challenge me and help me grow as an architect!"

One project Stephanie is particularly proud of is a new homeless shelter for The Kitchen, Inc. in Springfield, MO. Click here to read about Stephanie's design for this project.