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Jade Rhodes installing rain garden design in Kaimukī.

In the world of landscape architecture, a student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is making waves with her outstanding achievements and commitment to redefining the field by garnering multiple national awards.

Jade Rhodes, a second-year master of landscape architecture student, was selected as one of the five national 2023 Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) Ignite cohort members. The LAF Ignite program is a highly regarded initiative that provides scholarships, internships and mentorship opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and other people of color students.

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Jade Rhodes

Additionally, Rhodes was awarded with the National Black Landscape Architects Network Edward Lyons Pryce, FASLA Scholarship. This scholarship highlights her exceptional contributions to the landscape architecture domain.

Rhodes, originally from Detroit, brings a unique perspective rooted in policy and anthropology, showcasing the interdisciplinary nature of her work. “My background was not in the traditional sense of design, it is more so in policy and anthropology,” she said. “Winning these awards feels incredible, and that I can do anything I put my mind to. It’s a testament to my passion for the field.”

Rhodes is currently exploring the possibilities of landscape architecture in Hawaiʻi, drawing inspiration from her roots in Detroit. Her vision includes establishing a community-powered landscape through food, especially in public park areas. She emphasizes the need to reconnect with land, space and plants to heal communities affected by urbanization.

“There is a huge gap happening between people and place,” said Rhodes. “My goal is to start an interdisciplinary firm that focuses on placemaking for underserved communities. So my goal is to find ways on refitting how food can play a huge part in landscape architecture.”

Rhodes’ was also nominated by School of Architecture faculty for the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture 2024 Fountain Scholar Program. The program celebrates individuals who contribute to the landscape architecture field and demonstrate exceptional promise.

“As her program director and instructor, I’ve been delighted by Jade’s passion for ecological resilience, biocultural restoration, commitment to reconnecting people with the land, and fostering community empowerment,” said Judith Stilgenbauer, a professor of landscape architecture. “Her recent, juried national-level recognitions are not mere symbols but tangible reflections of Jade’s and our newly accredited MLA program’s pursuit of the highest standards in landscape architecture.”

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