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UK Landscape Architecture Alum Finds Passion Designing Urban Communities
Kentucky Ag Connection - 03/27/2024

From starting her own business cutting grass at an early age, University of Kentucky graduate Simone Heath used her diverse education to lead the planning and designing of local community spaces as an urban designer in Atlanta, Georgia.

Heath, a 2012 UK Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment alum and first Black woman to graduate from the Department of Landscape Architecture (LA) program, shares how this industry is much more than landscaping and lawn maintenance:

“There’s a perception that landscape architecture is about cutting grass, maintaining yards or building a garden,” Heath said. “We are design professionals. We design and plan spaces people touch and use every day, like roads and buildings. Our profession is all about constructing what people want and need to have a positive experience.”

In Atlanta, Heath recently started her own consulting business called Urban Analytics, Planning, & Design, LLC. She also holds roles with A Sip of Paradise Garden as board advisor and is a YWCA of Greater Atlanta’s Georgia Women’s Policy Institute fellow. Each has shared values of creating stronger, more vibrant urban communities and creating policies and programs helping vulnerable populations.

Discovering UK

Growing up in Fayetteville, Georgia, Heath remembers loving watching her dad cut the grass. When she and her sisters were asked to help, everything changed for Heath at that moment.

“I remember enjoying being outside, cutting patterns and designs in the grass,” Heath said. “People in my neighborhood took notice of my yard work, so I started my own business at age 10 and kept that going for another eight years.”

In high school, Heath was interested in taking a foreign language class, however, it was full. She recalls, reluctantly at first, taking a landscaping class instead. There, she discovered her love of drawing and drafting house structures.

Heath was interested in learning more about landscaping careers when she attended her high school’s Career Day. At the event, Heath learned about UK’s LA program and the William C. Parker scholarship, designed to identify students who will positively contribute to an inclusive campus.

After arriving on campus, she found an instant connection with other students and became involved. Heath joined the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, UK Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, UK Horticulture Club and UK Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS).

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