2017 Goldman Fellow Spotlight: Eleni Andris 

The Goldman Fellows Program, funded by the Joyce and Irving Goldman Family Foundation, provides undergraduate students with a distinctive cohort environment and nonprofit and public service career experience. Participants secure unpaid summer internships in the St. Louis region and receive $5,000 summer stipends to cover living expenses.

Eleni Andris, a rising junior double majoring in Architecture in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and American Culture Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences, is a member of the 2017 Goldman Fellows cohort and recently completed her internship with the Preservation Research Office (PRO).

Eleni assisted PRO director Michael Allen with tasks related to his architectural historic preservation practice. She also designed a website compiling student research from his spring semester course at WashU, Decoding the City, and created supplementary visual content to help paint a vivid picture of the history of Mill Creek Valley.

“I really enjoyed seeing the website come to fruition,” Eleni commented. “Putting in time formatting, editing, writing, and synthesizing information to be able to make it digestible for viewers is a time-intensive process, but also a very rewarding one. I hope that the website can aid other researchers and act as a virtual archive of sorts to the history of Mill Creek Valley, with continuous contributions by other students and scholars.”

According to Michael, Eleni was a prodigious worker, and the website project would not have happened without her leadership. “She created an interactive timeline of the neighborhood, imposing current maps over historical ones so viewers can understand what’s there now and how it got there. We have more to add, but she laid the foundation and helped fulfill our mission of supporting public interest projects and providing information that is difficult to find about our built environment.”

The internship opened Eleni’s eyes to how broad the fields of architecture and architectural history can be. “I used to have a narrow conception of what being in the design field looked like,” she said. “After working with Michael and seeing the wide variety of interdisciplinary projects that he engages with on a daily basis, I have a heightened appreciation for work at the intersection of design, history, contemporary social issues, and the built environment. “Space in cities provides evidence of social and political relationships; of ones that existed in the past and ones that exist today,” Michael added. “Eleni understands that very well.”

Eleni’s experience as a Goldman Fellow was also deeply impacted by her peers. “The cohort experience was rewarding for me because I enjoyed seeing the vastly diverse ways people applied their passions to professional settings and the various kinds of growth people experienced depending upon what kind of work they were doing. I found that I could learn from and be challenged by everyone’s experiences, not just my own.”

Eleni and other Goldman Fellows participated in several excursions into St. Louis over the course of the program. “The excursions made me keenly aware of how little I still know about the city I have called home for the last two years, and how important it is to be an actively inquisitive and engaged citizen,” she shared. They have also shown me how individual community members can play such vital roles in nurturing and bolstering their communities, which has been beautiful and inspiring to see and learn about.”

In Michael’s view, the Goldman Fellows program is a bridge that helps students embed in and learn about St. Louis. “I think students are less inclined to explore certain parts of St. Louis if their internships and courses do not take them there. They shouldn’t be afraid of the community; they should participate to the fullest. This program teaches them how to begin on that path.”

“I would wholeheartedly recommend the Goldman Fellows Program to others,” Eleni summed. “It has not only given me the opportunity to pursue a customized internship, self-tailored to my interests within the St. Louis community, but through programming and the cohort experience, it has challenged me to learn from others and my own self-reflection.”