Submitted by DLE’16 Alum Frank Fuentes, Principal, Fuentes Architecture, Hollywood, FL
I cannot even begin to describe the rollercoaster of emotions this month. I was initially scheduled to take my sixth and final professional architect’s exam on Nov. 9.
Unfortunately, due to Tropical Storm Eta, the testing center was closed. I found out that the exam was canceled at about 5 am the morning of the exam. It was rescheduled to Nov. 16. While I had an extra week to prepare, there was not much more I could have done to face this challenge.
I knew it would be another tough round. I had four hours to answer 120 questions (several of which included complex calculations), and when I took my break at the halfway point, I couldn’t believe how the exam was going. It was brutal!
Yet, I did not waiver. I stayed calm and composed and worked out the questions. Once I had finished the exam, I reviewed my previous answers and found a few errors in my assumptions and calculations. Thankfully, I had time to redo the answer, submit my test and get the news. I passed!
Done, I immediately rushed out of the testing center and called my parents and fiancée. They were all so proud and ecstatic to hear the news. It was incredibly rewarding—certainly the most important accomplishment of my life.
For my mother and father, both immigrants, who raised me – to think that one day I would become a licensed professional architect means so much. It has validated their hard work and support.
I am honored to be the first DLE Alumnus Licensed Architect! I hope this accomplishment will inspire other DLE alumni to further their careers. (I’m sure they don’t need any more motivation, thanks to the DLE group and Linda). I started studying architecture design 14 years ago. It feels amazing to reach this milestone.
As for next steps, believe it or not, I’m going to relax for the rest of the year. I technically cannot start opening my own firm until I have the license. I am planning to open up my own private practice by February 2021.
This past week, I started contacting former colleagues and companies I’ve worked with to share with them my professional update. Just today, I received feedback and confirmation that people plan to pass along architectural opportunities to me (mainly small projects). I’ve been brainstorming and have decided to start putting some practice exams together—based on the notes I made and used to prepare for the exam—and sell them to other licensure candidates. This will hopefully serve as some income until I ramp up and launch my practice.
Thanks to (DLE Founder) Linda Dulye for your support throughout this process. I will never forget the DLE experience. The DLE truly gave me such a surge of confidence that I could do anything. I am deeply grateful.