Feb. 17, 2017
When Leonna H. was younger, she was willing to overlook her fear of snakes to become a veterinarian, but the sight of blood quickly changed that early career goal.
“My brother went through an injury and my mother was changing the wounds and I saw the blood and almost passed out. Like … I fell into the closet. I was about 12,” said Leonna, now 18 and a senior at Arsenal Technical High School.
With help from her mother, she chose a different career path — one that focuses on her love of drawing. She settled on architecture and hasn’t looked back.
“I did some research on architecture and creating buildings, and the more I got into it the more I started to like it,” said Leonna, who wants to create both residential and commercial buildings. “I like the idea of being able to create something that’s going to be standing for a long time. I want to be a part of history, basically.”
For about a year, Leonna, a Math and Science magnet student at Tech, has been enrolled in the Architectural Drafting & Design pathway through the school’s Career & Technology Center (CTC). The hard work and dedication she has put into the program will pay off on Friday, Feb. 17, when she receives the Indiana Career and Technology (CTE) Award of Excellence in the student category.
Her award is one of three CTE awards being received by Tech’s CTC program. The other two are for partnership (Duke Realty) and career pathway (Architectural Drafting & Design). This is the first time IPS has received a CTE award.
“We applied for three out of the four awards and it’s just a great honor to be able to recognize the hard work that people here at CTC are putting in,” said Ben Carter, director of Career and Technical Education at IPS. “It kind of symbolizes that some of our pathways are at that level of excellence that they can be recognized.”
Leonna will attend the ceremony, but she’s still surprised to be one of the award recipients. She admits to going through the motions during the nomination process, “because I didn’t think that I would win.”
For Carter, choosing to nominate Leonna out of the nearly 2,000 students in the CTC program was a no-brainer. CTC offers 15 career pathways — from culinary arts to animal science to architecture — to IPS students, as well as some non-district students.
“Out of all of the high caliber students that we have, Leonna stands out,” he said. “She is pursuing a pathway in a male-dominated field, so she’s a non-traditional student. She’s had some hardships and challenges that she’s had to overcome, but she has over a 4.0 GPA, is taking AP credits, has participated in an engineering internship, plays varsity basketball, and is one of the lead architects in our ACE (Architecture, Construction, Engineering) Mentor program. So, she pretty much has it all going for her.”
The attributes Carter touts as special, Leonna views as the only way to reach her end goal of becoming a successful architect.
“Growing up, I was exposed to certain things but I decided to take a different route, a better pathway, and that has benefitted me in many ways,” said Leonna, who loves to listen to music, sing and draw. “I’ll be the first one in my family to go to college and I’m trying to set a good example for my niece and two nephews. I want them to see me do well so they will do the same. I have high standards for myself and I go above and beyond in what I do.”
In the fall, Leonna will attend Ball State University to study architecture. She credits the ACE program and the teachers at CTC for helping her move toward that next step in life.
“For me, the CTC program is special because it gives you a first look into what you want to go into as a career. It helps you see what the job is like and if it’s really what you want to go into,” she said. “It’s preparing your mindset for college, because you have to have a pathway and direction of where you want to go. It’s also giving you hands-on experience in the field that you want to go into or one that you think you want to go into. … The CTC program gives you connections through internships and the industry professionals that we meet.”
The Indiana CTE Awards for Excellence ceremony is at 1 p.m. Feb. 17 in the Indiana Government Center South Auditorium, 302 W. Washington St. A reception in the Government Center atrium will immediately follow the ceremony.