10 Questions with Jennifer Zukoski 


FIU’s Outstanding Graduate for CARTA is Jennifer Zukoski. She is graduating this Spring 2024 with a master’s in landscape architecture in the Department of Landscape Architecture + Environmental and Urban Design (LAEUD). As a student, Zukoski is part of the Tikkun Olam Makers as an FIU fellow and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Let’s find out more about our Outstanding Graduate with 10 Questions as the spring semester of 2024 is close to an end.

1. What sparked your interest in the field of landscape architecture?

I’ve always had a deep fascination with nature but also grew up with an interest in the arts. During my junior year of high school, I had the opportunity to shadow a family friend enrolled in the FIU LAEUD program. As I experienced her studio classes, I fell in love with the design process. This experience solidified my love for both creativity and environmental studies, so I was drawn to Landscape Architecture, which beautifully encompasses these passions.

2. Describe your first-year experience as a student in the LAEUD program?

During my first year in the LAEUD program, I really felt like I was at “home”. I felt very welcomed by the 2nd and 3rd year cohorts, and feel like my first-year experience was greatly impacted by these students and their mentorship and friendship. The studio experience was very hands-on, as I was doing many site visits as a part of my first and second LAEUD studio semesters, in which we were taught to pay close attention to the smallest of details on the sites we were working on, to broaden our understanding of the vast scope of landscape architecture. 

3. What has been your favorite project during your time in the program?I’d say my favorite project was my Graduate Design II studio project, which was located on an abandoned golf course in Hollywood, FL. My design’s goal was to revitalize the site through natural interventions in the form of a retention pond that would collect stormwater runoff which usually floods the surrounding residential community. This project also happened to be in the area where I grew up, so I took great pride in using the knowledge I was learning in school to make an impact in my local community.  

Zukoski presenting her Graduate Design II studio project to her professors and peers.

4. What is your favorite memory as an FIU student?

My favorite memory as an FIU student must be a study abroad trip that I took to Mexico City after my first year in the LAEUD program. It was an incredible experience led by Professor Roberto Rovira, where we visited many prominent parks, museums, and markets, all while sketching the scenes around us and learning about the rich history of Mexico City and Mexican Landscape Architecture. We also visited a few Landscape Architecture firms and got to get a tour by one of the firm’s projects at Parque Bicentenario. 

Zukoski with Professor Roberto Rovira and fellow LAEUD students exploring Mexico City and its landscape architecture on a study abroad trip.

5. What was a challenge you faced during your studies, and how were you able to overcome it?

A challenge I faced during my studies was struggling to balance life and school, and through seeking different mentors– upperclassmen and alumni from the LAEUD program, I was able to get advice from them on how to navigate through this challenge, among others. 

6. Tell us more about your involvement in the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Tikkun Olam Makers.

I have been an active member of ASLA for 3 years now, with my involvement starting out as a student member, which grew to being elected as Secretary for the FIU ASLA Student Chapter in 2022-23, and then being elected for the role of Student Charge for the National ASLA Student Advisory Committee in Dec 2022, where I passionately work to promote ASLA at a local, regional, and national level by drawing on my personal experience as a student to provide input and feedback to inform annual program development and to improve recruitment and retention of student members. 

Zukoski involved in the FIU ASLA as a student member, secretary, and student charge.

My involvement with Tikkun Olam Makers started in the Spring of 2023, when I was invited to the annual “Makeathon” event where my brother participated as a “Need-Knower” or someone with a neglected challenge that doesn’t have a market solution. I not only got to participate as a student “Maker” in developing a 3D printed solution for another Need-Knower, but I also got to witness Engineering and Architecture students collaborate together on designing a solution for my brother; they addressed his challenge of gripping a pencil by designing a pencil holder specific to his dimensions, which helped him write faster. I left the event feeling deeply impacted and moved by what I experienced and decided that I wanted to keep on participating in TOM, which is what motivated me to become a fellow for the Tikkun Olam Makers organization in June of 2023. Over the course of 9 months as a TOM FIU fellow, I was able to harness over 95 interested students through several classroom presentations. During this Spring semester, I lead our annual Makeathon, and we had over 30 student Makers from Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Physical Therapy, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Computer Science collaborate in interdisciplinary student teams to design and fabricate solutions for our four Need-Knowers, which include an Adaptive Bike Handle, Adaptive Crawling Sleeve, and two Communication Boards. I also want to mention that this event would not have been possible without our wonderful faculty advisors Jacqui Thompson and John Stuart. We hosted our Makeathon event at Miami Beach Urban Studios facility, and were able to design and 3D print our solutions using the technology available to us through the MBUS facility.

 Zukoski participating as a student “maker” for the Tikkun Olam Makers, developing 3D printed resources during the annual Makeathon event at Miami Beach Urban Studios facility with collaboration from other interdisciplinary student teams.

7. Is there a particular goal you have achieved during your time at FIU?

I’d say a goal I achieved during my time at FIU was to incentivize more interdisciplinary collaboration between engineering and SOA students, and, thanks to my fellowship with Tikkun Olam Makers, I was able to make that happen. 

8. How do you feel about graduation approaching?

I feel excited and nostalgic about my time as a student at FIU. I’ve made so many amazing memories here and I am quite sad to be leaving the School of Architecture and all the wonderfully supportive faculty, professors, and fellow students that have helped me immensely along my academic journey. But I am also ready for this next chapter in my life as an emerging professional and am fully embracing it! 

9. What do you plan to do after graduating?

After graduation, I will be taking a trip to Europe. Though I will be celebrating my graduation, I view travel as an extension of my education and an opportunity for continuous exploration, and I’m so excited to immerse myself in the cultures of the countries I’ll visit. 

10. Do you have a piece of advice for our current and future SOA students?

My biggest piece of advice to current and future SOA students would be to seek out mentors as early as possible. Whether they be upperclassmen, professors, or experienced/ emerging professionals, I highly suggest finding someone who you can learn from as you navigate through your academic journey. 

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