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Montview alumna shares her journey from DSST to designing dreams

Aspen Harris is a Denver native. Raised in the Parkhill, Montbello, and Green Valley Ranch communities, her journey from DSST: Montview (Class of 2015) to the drafting tables of her architectural firm is a testament to the transformative power of education and determination.

Her passion for architecture began early, sparked by the sight of houses being built around the city.

“I would see residential projects come up all around the city, and the sight of a building being erected from the underground up was mesmerizing to me,” Aspen said. “I would always have my parents drive me around the construction areas or take us to tour a model home just for the fun of it! I think that’s when I knew I was invested.”

With her parents' support, Aspen set her sights on a career in architecture. She eventually earned her Bachelor of Architectural Studies from the University of Kansas and her Master of Architecture from the University of Colorado-Denver.

Aspen's time at DSST was transformative. She describes it as long but filled with valuable experiences.

"As the first-ever middle school class, not only were we the guinea pigs, there were also lots of standards put on us as students to be the very best," she said. “At the time, everything felt annoying and didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but as I got older at DSST, I realized they were instilling lifelong core values into us.”

Aspen got involved in everything she could, from sports to planning committees to service learning trips abroad. All of her experiences at DSST prepared Aspen to step into the world as a leader, use her voice and dominate any space she is in.

“I don’t think I would’ve truly known if Architecture was for me (if it wasn‘t for programs like ACE and junior year internship), so I’m beyond thankful for DSST creating pivotal experiences for us,” Aspen said. “If I had to redo my time in school, I wouldn’t change anything.”

Today, Aspen is working as an architect who designs residential homes and multi-family buildings. Her background and life experiences drive her design process, and she aims to inspire kids who look like her to think big and pursue their dreams boldly.


"Knowing that I'm not working hard every day for just me is what excites me!" she said. “My background and life experiences impact the way I design. I design with intent and thoughtfulness, and I think about what elates people. I design with my young relatives in mind, hoping that they will be welcomed and encouraged to pursue a career of creativity and will have the courage to be themselves in any room and walk with authority. I design with my heart to inspire kids who look like me to think big and out of the box.”

One piece of advice Aspen offers to students is to advocate for themselves and always be willing to learn and grow. She emphasizes the importance of finding a mentor and paying attention to details, especially in the field of architecture.

As she continues to shape spaces and inspire future generations, Aspen stands as a beacon of hope and possibility, proving that with determination and a touch of creativity, the sky's the limit.

“The elders in my family paved the way for me to have opportunities they could only dream of, so every day I choose to lead the way so that one day my future children will say ‘the ceiling is the floor for me!’”