Alumni Spotlight

Erike De Veyra ‘09


The first time Erike De Veyra ’09—hailing from the Lone Star State of Texas—set foot on Jefferson’s (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) East Falls campus was on move-in day of her freshman year. Sight unseen, Erike researched and took a chance that Jefferson was where she could fulfill her professional dreams of creating set designs that were engaging and had widespread appeal. While this may seem daunting for any student, Erike has never regretted her decision to matriculate at Jefferson.

As an architecture major with a photography minor, Erike’s academic career speaks volumes: documenting and visually capturing her student experiences for the University’s admission’s blog; serving as a resident adviser; welcoming students and their family members to campus as a Rambassador; founding and organizing Ram Jam, a campus-wide, outdoor celebration of spring; and coordinating the University’s chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students’ Fall Northeast Quad Conference as a student member of the chapter.

Erike’s involvement with Jefferson didn’t end upon graduation. Since then, she has been a member of the First Five Council (which she also chaired), the Jefferson Alumni Board and the College of the Built Environment Advancement Council. For her contributions, she received Jefferson’s Young Alumni Achievement Award.

But if you ask her, the things she is most proud of are the things she learned at Jefferson.

“I have worked on many volunteer groups most of which include a significant number of my fellow alums,” Erike noted. “We bring to the table what we learned in school: the need to make a positive impact in the world.”

And make an impact she has. One program she has been involved with since 2011 is Park(ing) Day, an annual event that raises awareness of the environment, health and the need for green space in urban areas.

Her mantra—Let’s design and build—has become an anthem for the day, engaging and raising awareness that connects the built environment to the public realm to strengthen a bond between communities and public places. By engaging in the deliberative and communal processes of shaping public spaces as a designer, connector and tactical urbanist, she not only meets the needs and wants of users to determine the physical design elements needed to create public spaces but also finds the process an outlet for her passion to design.

“Our goal is to see how far we can extend awareness of public spaces into Philadelphia neighborhoods outside the immediate Center City area,” Erike explained. “We strive to connect design to residents who are outside the design profession.”

In addition to PARK(ing) Day Philadelphia, Erike has volunteered and participated in many of Philadelphia’s design-based organizations, including the Center for Architecture and Design; AIA Philadelphia; DesignPhiladelphia; and the Community Design Collaborative. She was a member of the AIA Philadelphia Board of Directors; AIA Philadelphia Emerging Architects Committee as the Marketing & Communications, Design Competitions and Spooktacular chair; and Fast Forward >> Philly (a DesignPhiladelphia event) co-chair. She received the AIA Philadelphia Volunteer of the Year Award, the first AIA Pennsylvania Associate Award for demonstrating professional and civic leadership, and was honored in the inaugural cohort of Philly Girls Do Good, recognizing and celebrating women leaders in design and community development.

Erike’s interests in art, photography and pottery have been displayed and published in Artist Wanted/See.Me – EXPOSURE, Art Takes Times Square, Art House Co-op’s A Million Little Photographs, the Art by Architects Exhibition, Philadelphia Photo Day and the Fairmount Arts Crawl. She also curated Philadelphia’s entry to the Outside the Box Exhibition featured in the Toronto Design Offsite Festival and WantedDesign Brooklyn. Additionally, she dabbles in the design and creation of homemade kids' toys (her daughter is her inspiration) and household goods, and has had her products featured at the 2017 DesignPhiladelphia Pop-Up Shop, Nesting House South Philadelphia and Circle of Hope’s Art Shop.

But whether she is designing for work, craft or volunteer projects, Erike has stood by the principle that design needs to be effective and smoothly injected into mainstream life in which anyone can understand and appreciate it.

“Design should be accessible to all,” Erike postulated. “From postcards to toys to a parking spot to a window display to mixed-use buildings, design needs to inform everyone in the easiest way possible.”

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