Landscape architecture student combines science with design

Student Claire Schleusener is interested in creating ecologically stable spaces help support connections with the natural world.

Claire Schleusener is studying landscape architecture at Michigan State University.
Claire Schleusener is studying landscape architecture at Michigan State University.

Inspired by a high school teacher and the environmental science class she attended, Claire Schleusener decided to pursue a degree in landscape architecture in part to help support environmental stewardship and people’s connections with nature.

The landscape architecture program at Michigan State University was established in 1898 and is the oldest in the U.S. Students learn science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, broadening their perspectives and skills as collaborators on landscape, design and city planning projects.

“Students are trained to design spaces that foster community engagement, urban regeneration and ecological stability,” Schleusener said. “By involving landscape architects in the planning of our urban environments, society will be better equipped to improve urban vitality in a way that is restorative to the natural cycles and processes of the environment.”

Schleusener is one of the 2020 CANR Alumni Association Scholarship awardees.

Name: Claire Schleusener

Hometown: Clarkston, Michigan

Major: Landscape architecture through the School of Planning, Design and Construction.

Anticipated graduation: Spring 2023

Why did you choose your major and why MSU?

I chose to study landscape architecture to develop my creativity as a designer, and equip me to enrich the human experience. Simultaneously, I want to help restore the ecological balance to our environment.

Additionally, Michigan State is the only university to offer an accredited landscape architecture program in Michigan.

Who or what inspired your interest in the major you selected?

I think this decision could be traced back to a strong influence by my AP Environmental Science teacher, Mrs. Rupp, back in high school. The class was my first exposure to the threats human activities impose on the natural balance of life on Earth. She took us on field trips to our hometown park to learn about water quality and taught us about environmental stewardship, fostering what would become a strong connection between myself and the natural world.

What has been one of your best experiences within your major so far?

There have been multiple opportunities for me to travel with the Landscape Architecture Club, or individually, to tour landscape architecture firms in the Midwest.

Meeting with firms is always a powerful experience for me. It is invaluable to hear from professionals about how they got to where they are, what they enjoy about their current workplace, and their reflections on their time as students. I always return to school inspired and driven to improve my academic performance.

What are some of the best things about being an MSU student?

This university is an incredibly resourceful place. There are so many professionals and alumni that are eager to share their experiences with students and support them. There are endless opportunities to learn from and connect with great people. I’ve enjoyed having the freedom to create an educational experience tailored to my specific interests.

Any thoughts or advice for current students?

I’ve found success here by surrounding myself with people who inspire and encourage me professionally. Investing in these relationships is fulfilling and has kept me on the right track.

My advice is to continuously reflect on the quality of your relationships and keep your circle manageably small.

What are your future plans?

I will be pursuing a master’s degree in environmental design here at MSU, for which I have already begun planning my thesis. I hope to center my research around ecological regeneration of land degraded by human use.

After graduation I will be looking to join a firm that aligns with my interests, and will be continuing my studies as I prepare for the landscape architecture registration exam.

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