How One Soon-to-be Crafton Graduate Found Her Niche in Architecture
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Publish Date: April 25, 2023

Dakota Erwin

Dakota Erwin will soon make her way to Cal Poly Pomona where she’ll study architecture, a career inspired by her upbringing in neighboring Hemet.

But her path to a higher education was not an easy one. At 18 Erwin had to drop out of Mt. San Antonio College for personal reasons and began working two jobs to make ends meet. Soon she found herself “sucked into the workforce,” but going back to college always weighed heavily on her.

A friend introduced the now 28-year-old Hemet resident to Crafton Hills College, where she restarted her higher education . But balancing college life on two different campuses – both Crafton and its sister college, San Bernardino Valley College – was not easy but necessary for her goal to become an architect as Crafton does not offer architecture courses, but Valley does.

“It was a little hard going back and forth doing classes in person on both campuses,” Erwin shared. “While they’re sister schools, they are two different worlds, and you have to be flexible with that. Different rules and a different layout.”

Upon graduation next month, Erwin intends to continue working towards a bachelor’s in architecture and environmental design, a subject Erwin developed a love for in high school. “But I found it unreachable,” she said. “My home life was not great when I was younger, but I was motivated to graduate [from high school] early so I could get out and go to college, but life happens.”

In addition to earning her bachelor’s, Erwin plans to minor in urban planning and design and has dreams of building sustainable housing units for generations to come. Erwin said she was influenced by her childhood experiences living in mobile homes in an area where drug use and homelessness is high. “My family was affected by that, and I knew that I not only wanted to make great structures but also make lives better,” she continued. “This past year, I have been clearer in what I want to do. I want to find better ways to build our environment to be more sustainable and more affordable. Crafton has definitely brought a spark back in me for sure by opening these doors and opportunities.

“I just don’t want to build buildings for the sake of it, I want to build buildings for the people.”