Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 – Interviews
Bernardo Fort-Brescia, FAIA
Founding Principal, Arquitectonica
Director of Facility Design and Construction, Houston Methodist Hospital
Latinx@Langan had the honor of talking to Marissa Vasquez, the Director of Facility Design and Construction at Houston Methodist Hospital.
Marissa oversees master planning and design of construction projects for Houston Methodist Hospital’s south region, which includes the Sugar Land, Baytown and Clear Lake campuses. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Panama and her master’s degree in construction management from Texas A&M University. She is a licensed architect in Texas, a certified construction manager, a certified energy manager, and a LEED AP BD&C accredited professional.
We asked Marissa about her background, how her heritage influences her work, and what advice she would like to share with young professionals in the industry. Below is Marissa’s summary, in her own words, of her thoughts and comments.
Roots & Career
I was born and raised in Panama in a household full of women. I am the youngest of three girls. The idea of becoming an architect first occurred to me during a family vacation in the mountains in Panama. My mom pointed out the details of one of the log cabins and at that moment, I began to think about architecture as a profession.
I pursued my bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the Universidad de Panama. After graduation, I worked at an architectural firm. During my time at the firm, I took advantage of an opportunity to go out to the field and I fell in love with the construction process. I landed a scholarship for my Master’s in construction management at Texas A&M and my career started in earnest.
I was raised to work hard and be humble. Therefore, my biggest challenge was praising my own work to my superiors. Throughout the years, I learned to speak up about my work to the right people, which has given me greater opportunities to advance my career.
Role of Heritage
I feel that my culture has shaped me into a happy and enthusiastic leader. I believe those traits are contagious and I often find that my team enjoys what they are doing because the high energy is carried throughout the team.
Advice for Young Professionals
Find what you love to do and make sure you stick with it. If you do what you love, your career is going to be rewarding. I come to work every day happy and ready to take part in building facilities that enhance our healthcare services.
Recipe: Sancocho with white rice
In honor of Marissa’s favorite dish and Panamanian culture, please try out the recipe here and enjoy a traditional Sancocho with White Rice. As Marissa describes it, “it’s a very simple dish, but it tastes like heaven!”