Professional career stories of our freshly-minted graduates


Xiao Cui

Class of 2017

I am currently working with Talley Associates, Dallas, Texas. During my job interviews,  I felt that the portfolio I produced at ISU was competitive and resulted in several job offers. My educational experience at the MLA program equipped me with the ability to handle multi-scale project confidently. The interdisciplinary project of final semester also prepared me to the real world work process of collaborating with architects, structural engineers and constructors.


Rachel Anderson

Class of 2016

After graduation, I moved to Lincoln, Nebraska and started work as the Community Landscape Specialist for the Nebraska Forest Service. This means I get to travel across the state to help communities plan, fund, and maintain public landscape projects. So far, I’ve gotten the chance to create designs for parks, schools, and campuses and have built a network of relationships with green industry professionals, community leaders, and conservation advocates.


Maclaine Sorden

Class of 2016

I recently started farming with a woman that needed some help on a 31 acre farm near Friday Harbor, Washington. We grow many different veggies and a few fruits and we have goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, and horses, as well as a farm store to manage. We are hoping to develop a cafe and bakery by April of next year and then begin plans for a farm-to-table restaurant and build some small cabins for farm stays.


Qingyang Ding

Class of 2016

Following my graduation and a long road trip, I returned to China and began looking for a job. Within a month, I had been interviewed and was hired by from an architectural firm in Shanghai, Xian Dai Architectural Design (Group) . The firm is considered to be the best in Shanghai and in the top 3 in China. As a Landscape designer I am responsible for landscape conceptual design.

Shanghai Xian Dai Architectural Design (Group)Co.,Ltd, (its new name is ARCPLUS GROUP PLC.) has 64 years history, and 7700 staffs, including 400 in America. In 2012, the firm placed 58th out of 150 construction and design firms in the world, as ranked by ENR. Our recent famous project is Shanghai Disney Land.

This is a great stage of my career life and I believe in this firm I can grow and become a successful landscape designer.


Fangzhou Miao

Class of 2016

Thanks to my professors at Iowa State and while I was looking for a job in my final semester, I was introduced to a great design firm – Fletcher Studio – where I am now employed. Fletcher Studio is an innovative, award-winning, collaborative practice based in San Francisco. Design and planning solutions come from the interaction with the many people, processes, histories, policies, economies and ecologies that are specific to each project and place. The philosophy of Fletcher Studio perfectly align with my personal career pursuit, and its practice enables me to apply the knowledge I have gained at ISU Community Visioning program, where I practiced as a research assistant, to my current practice.

I am recently working on a traffic calming project for the Dogpatch District in the San Francisco Bay Area. This is a community engaged streetscape renovation project in which we use 3D-modeling, mapping, and community workshops. I really enjoy my work as well as my life in this vibrant city with all kinds of interesting people and events. Life is an adventure, I am glad that San Francisco is one of my major stops.


Xiujian Xie

Class of 2015

Following my graduation ceremony, my parents and flew to Washington DC, where we started a journey across America from east to west. I then spent some time in San Diego, California, with a friend and just before my OPT was reaching its 90-day limit of stay in the US without employment, I received two acceptance letters for internship positions I applied earlier on—at San Diego Parks & Recreation Department and at Lakewold Gardens in Lakewood, Washington. I chose to intern at Lakewold Gardens.

Lakewold Gardens is a 10-acre historical ground and non-profit estate that was donated by Eulalie Wagner in 1987 to the Friends of Lakewood. The Olmsted brothers and Thomas Church were involved in the design of the garden in the past. The huge Douglass Firs (up to 60 feet) in the garden make it unique. North of Ms. Wagner’s house, the herringbone pattern brick path leads to a lattice Tea House, where Cecile Brunner and Kathleen, the two old fashioned climbing roses, dance together in the summer. I’m responsible for a project that aims to improve the interaction between visitors and garden rooms. I hope to gain experience in plant design and built detail design.

I enjoy my work—I have flexible working hours, the serenity of the garden soothes my mind; everyday, I sketch and breath the fresh air of the garden. “Life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you’re gonna get”, and I will say that while you get the one, savor it.


Tara Bounds

Class of 2015

“I’ve decided to take the unbeaten path in my post-graduation professional career. I found the opportunity to work as a Hubbell Realty’s Conservation Communities Specialist, where I will be designing and coordinating the management of 145 acres of prairie integrated with five housing developments. A large part of my job involves prescribing fire and weed control as well as marketing and outreach to the communities. I am also actively making connections with engineering and LA firms in the area, practicing residential landscape design, and continuing environmental interpretation design work at Whiterock Conservancy. It’s a balancing act, but for now, I am so happy to be in Iowa, working on projects I care about. I am thankful for the great education I received at ISU.” IMG_0130

Shannon Gapp (Hoy)

Class of 2015

I am currently working as an Urban Planner and Landscape Architect-In-Training at Confluence | Landscape Architecture & Urban Design, Des Moines, Iowa. I am involved in the design of several communities and regional planning projects includes: The Story County Comprehensive (C2C) Plan; A Future Land Use Plan for the City of Adel, Iowa; The Master Plan for the Gibson Property in Pleasant Hill, Iowa; The North Shore Master Plan in Norwalk, Iowa; and The Mission, Kansas Comprehensive Plan.

I am also working on other projects that are more landscape architecture based, however at this point those projects remain confidential and are only to be discussed within the firm.

My education at ISU has helped me to find a career that allows me to utilize my undergraduate degree in Community and Regional Planning, as well as my Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture. Learning to further my graphic skills, understanding the basics of AutoCAD, and furthering my plant knowledge have been my largest takeaways from the MLA program. Also, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to intern at Design Workshop in Aspen, Colorado last summer (with the portfolio help and letter of recommendation from Bambi Yost and ISU Alumni Adam Mekies).

Shannon Hoy web (2)



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