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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.Leonna Huddleston

 

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.