This month we're thrilled to put the spotlight on Carissa Shrock, AIA, LEED AP BD+C. Carissa is a newly elected AIA Los Angeles Board Member, and was recently awarded two very prestigious awards: the 2016 National AIA Young Architects award, and the 2016 ENR California "Top 20 under 40" . We sat down with Carissa to see how she has excelled so far in her career, and how she manages to find balance.Tell us a little bit about your background. I was born and raised in San Diego and went on to college at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, graduating in 2003 with a Bachelors of Architecture and a Minor in Construction Management. Shortly after graduation I moved to Los Angeles and began working at Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners, where I am still working today.Why did you want to become an architect? I have always had a passion for both art and math so becoming an architect was the perfect fit. I was fortunate enough to take architectural drafting and interior design classes in high school, which sparked my interest and lead me to architecture as a career path.Who have been your greatest influencers? Why? Julia Morgan has always been an inspiration to me. She was a successful female architect in California at a time when it was not common for women to have careers. She broke boundaries, and is still breaking boundaries many years after her death, as evidenced by her receipt of the AIA Gold Medal Award in 2014.What do you feel are some of your most important achievements?That’s a tough question. We all gauge success differently and success comes in many shapes and forms. For me, some of my most successful accomplishments include:- Managing the design and execution of $125 million international project- Leading a 14-firm consultant team through a complicated design, permitting, and construction process- Spearheading office initiatives of various educational opportunities in order for colleagues to grow and learn- Mentoring emerging professionals through the licensure process- Engaging the design community through active involvement and leadership in professional organizations- Elected to AIA/LA Board of Directors for 2016 - 2018- 2016 award recipient of AIA National Young Architect Award- 2016 award recipient of ENR California Magazine’s Top 20 Under 40Thoughts on your career path in general? How do you balance "extra-curriculars" with your day-to-day work?Often I’m asked “How do I have time to do it all?” And the answer is simple – I don’t. I am very selective on where and what I spend my time on. But for those things I do choose, I am 100% committed to being in the moment and to giving it my all. This does require saying “no” sometimes and managing others’ expectations along the way. It also requires developing excellent time management skills so I can be as effective with my limited time as possible.What are some of the insights of being a woman in your occupation?Now is an exciting time of change and opportunity within the architecture profession, particularly for women. The momentum to achieve gender equity in the profession is strong throughout LA and across the nation. I encourage all women in the industry to do their part: participate in the discussion, be an example to other females, and lead the change.What excites you creatively, spiritually or emotionally?For me, there is nothing more exciting than walking around a construction jobsite and seeing your creation come to life. It’s one thing to draw lines on a piece of paper that represent building elements but when you see those “lines” being constructed, they take on a whole new meaning – they come to life.What do you think / hope your occupation will look like in 10 years?I hope to continue to grow and learn as an architect, a project manager, and a mentor. Architecture is a profession in which you never quite have it all figured out – there is always a lot more to learn! It can be extremely challenging (and at times frustrating) but it’s never boring. The challenge of it all energizes and excites me.What is the importance of AWA+D in your life?AWA+D is a powerful resource for women in design. I find value in meeting and getting to know others who are like me - who have similar thoughts, struggles, hopes, and desires. And as with anything, the more you put in the organization, the more you get out of it.What advice would you give the graduating class of 2020? 1. Get your architecture (or other professional) license! And do it right away. It will only get harder the longer you wait.2. Whatever career path you choose, do it with passion. We spend a large percentage of our life at work so it’s important to have a job/ career that you love.3. Take the opportunity. Some opportunities may seem frivolous or troublesome but they often open doors to other opportunities. If an opportunity comes your way, do your best to run with it.Any final thoughts or words of wisdom?Architecture is a huge part of everyone’s life, whether they are in the profession or not – we sleep in homes, work in offices, shop in stores, eat in restaurants, etc. It’s our duty as architects and designers to create beautiful and healthy spaces which can better the lives of others.