Monica is the Founder and President of MOSA Design Studios LLC, which was founded in 2009 and is located in Grayson, Georgia. Before working with working for herself she was a Building Plans Examiner with Gwinnett County for 11 years. Monica also worked with renowned architecture firms on many multimillion dollar projects such as the Atlanta City Courts, Atlanta Public Schools Office and Dekalb County Juvenile Courts, Flight safety Atlanta and many airport projects throughout the nation.
I met Monica at a networking event. I had driven across town in rush hour traffic to find myself in a semi-dark room with a bunch of people whom I didn't know. About 20 minutes in, I was thinking about leaving, and I could tell that Monica was too, but after I got up and gave my spiel, she looked me dead in the eye and asked if I had a business card. She was genuine, something I cannot always say. She had that whole quiet, confident, "I know who I am and whose I am,” swag going on. She was, for me, a kindred spirit (what I want someone to say about me one day), and when I tell you, she was humble.
When it was her time to get up in front of everyone, I learned that she was an architect. I was thinking wow! I could tell that she and the other women who were there had a close association. They were all very impressive in their own right, but Monica made a beeline straight for my heart when she talked about helping people, about educating people, schooling our people about code regulations, and code violations...our people.
For another thing, she was humble. Oh...I said that. This bears repeating. I find it refreshing because believe it or not, I get tired of all the (and I will admit that they are) amazing women that I meet who find it necessary to tell everyone just how amazing they are. Monica seemed to embody something my mother used to say, "Don't tell me how wonderful you are. Let me tell you." My mother was pretty smart, but let me tell you because she probably won't, Monica is simply phenomenal!
Monica follows in the footsteps of Norma Merrick Sklarek, often called the “Rosa Parks of architecture." Sklarek was one of the first African-American women to earn an architect license in the United States, but as an African American female, Monica is one of a very small number of African American female architects in the US. In fact, African American female architects make up less than one-half percent of the total in the US. That is right, according to a February 2017, article on Curbed.com, “African Americans made up 13 percent of the total U.S. population at the last census, [but] only 2 percent of the licensed architects in the U.S. are African American, according to the National Association of Minority Architects (NOMA).”
Roughly, 0.3 percent of that 2 percent are African American females. That is pretty amazing, but I would not expect less because Monica is also a woman of God. A day or two after the networking event, I sent the My Girlfriendz Place interview questionnaire to all the women I had met that night. They all responded and let me know that they would be
happy to comply, but Monica called me. "Let's meet", she said. We met for dinner and she told me the amazing story of her childhood. She says without hesitation that her mother is her hero, but she also knows, with certainty, who she is, and whose she is.
Born in Brooklyn, the youngest of five, Monica calls herself a miracle baby. Her mother hails from Costa Rica, and her father from Panama where he had nine other children. She talks about how her parents were never together, and her mother moved to New York, sent for her other children, and always worked hard to take care of hers. She honors her mother, who she said had nothing, but was everything for her children. She was the hard work, the dedication, the courage.
Despite her mother's best intentions, and as often is the case no matter how involved and engaged some parents are, Monica's family was not immune to the dangers of crack cocaine. She freely acknowledges the drama and some of the sordid experiences that come with that life, and, she says, & that's why I live as simply as I can. I have seen it, I know drama & quote; but she has not let it color her now, and I know, without really knowing her, that she's never used it as an excuse not to excel.
The family moved to Long Island when Monica was about seven. Some of her siblings weren't happy about the move, but it was necessary, maybe even destiny, for Monica. Shy and quiet, but with a keen intellect, Monica excelled. She grew up in a time when crack was devastating our communities, but she stayed active. She played basketball, ran track, sang, and played the violin. Despite what was going on around her, Monica was determined. She names people like Bill Cosby and the whole glimpse into something more than The Cosby Show provided for African-American youth, David Dinkins, the first and only African-American (to date) Mayor of New York, and then there was her basketball coach/math professor, who encouraged her to apply to Tuskegee (his alma mater).