DAAD Prize 2023: Interview with McKenna Montgomery junior member bdla Saxony-Anhalt

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McKenna Montgomery receives DAAD Prize 2023 of Anhalt University of Applied Sciences

The DAAD Prize is an award from the German Academic Exchange Service for international students at German universities. It is awarded to international students studying in Germany who have distinguished themselves through special academic achievements and social or intercultural commitment.

McKenna Montgomery (Photo: Prof. Dr. Nicole Uhrig)

Mckenna had completed her Bachelor's degree in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY before she decided to study for a Master's degree in the English-speaking international MLA at Anhalt University of Applied Sciences after 4 more years of professional experience, starting in the winter semester 2021. During her studies in MLA, McKenna took part in a number of student design competitions. In addition to a 1st prize in a team of 2 on the topic of "Green Facades" for the Kunst Raum Ateliers GEH8 Dresden and an internal university 3rd prize for the residential courtyard design of the Encke barracks in Magdeburg, McKenna and her team won 3rd prize in the student competition "Schwammstadt Quedlinburg" of the BDLA Central Germany regional group in 2022 and thus also acquired a trial membership in the BDLA.

McKenna was also an active ambassador for our MLA program at our partner university Utah State University, USA. In addition to her achievements in her studies, she is also a very socially committed and helpful personality, so it was more than obvious to nominate her as a candidate for the DAAD prize.

Prof. Dr. Nicole Uhrig, Program Director of the international Master of Landscape Architecture, had a brief conversation with the award winner after the award ceremony:

First of all, my warmest congratulations on the DAAD Prize 2023, which you have more than earned. We are very happy about that. How does it feel to be a DAAD award winner?

The moment I found out that I had received the award was really surprising - there are countless people who deserve it and I am very grateful to have been selected.

What motivated you to come to Germany and to Bernburg?

I wanted a new international perspective on landscape architecture. I have always admired the German way of thinking and their approach to public spaces and transportation. I had a connection to Anhalt University through my former university and looked into it. I decided it would be a great place for me. I loved living in the small, quiet town of Bernburg and we made a lot of great friends there.

What was the biggest challenge for you during your studies in Germany?

Homesickness was hard and being away from family and friends.

And what did you like best about your experience abroad?

There was so much. I really enjoyed all the great places we were able to visit and all the people we met. The teachers were incredibly helpful, very qualified and keen for us to develop and succeed. I also made many friends for life.

Do you have any tips for future exchange students? Is it worth it?

It's definitely worth it. As advice, I would say: take a positive approach. A good attitude and a willingness to work hard will make the difference between success and failure. Also, get involved and make friends with your classmates and the people around you. You make friends for life.

Where exactly are you from and what did you miss most from your home country?

I am from Cedar City, Utah, USA. I missed my family and friends a lot, and I missed the mountainous landscape and chocolate chip cookies.

What fascinates you most about landscape architecture?

I love everything about landscape architecture. It offers me a lot of variety every day. The work is diverse in terms of scale, landscape and location, which always produces unique and interesting solutions. The landscape is always dynamic and changing, so you never get exactly what you expect. I think that makes landscape architecture a very exciting and interesting profession.

What do you wish for the profession of landscape architecture in the future? And what are your plans for 2024?

I look forward to seeing how the profession continues to grow through technology and new developments, and I'm glad that people are increasingly understanding what we do. Landscape architecture will be extremely valuable in creating more liveable and sustainable spaces. I hope to start my license in 2024 and continue to improve in design.

Thank you for the interview McKenna. The MLA wishes you the very best on your continued exciting journey as a landscape architect and as a person.

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