Last updated: January 24. 2014 6:34PM - 1978 Views
By William Laney wlaney@civitasmedia.com

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LIMA — Parks over prison.

An architectural student at OSU-Lima says her dream is to design subdivisions including green space and parks for children to play so they can avoid the temptations of troublesome behavior, which may lead to time in prison.

Tierra Oliver, 18, who is pursuing a degree in architecture with emphasis in business administration, accepted a scholarship Friday from the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice after linking the work she dreams to do one day with helping tomorrow’s youth avoid time behind bars.

“In regard to architecture, if you build certain things in different locations it can help different societal problems,” the 2013 Shawnee High School graduate said prior to a ceremony held at the OSU Lima Visitor and Student Service Center. “If you build a park in a neighborhood where there are a lot of children who don’t have anything to do then it can help them stay out of trouble by giving them an alternative of something they can go do.”

The daughter of Rachel and Derek Richardson first became interested in architecture and drawing in the eighth grade when a teacher had her draw a schematic and floor plan of house. Her love of drawing grew during her time in high school.

Oliver, who graduated in the top 12 percent of her high school class, said she is excited to receive the scholarship and she intends to use the money to pay for books so she will not have to take loans out the next semester for her higher education. She graduated with a high school GPA higher than 3.6, which eclipsed the scholarship threshold of 3.0, and earned an ACT composite score of 28.

The St. Rita’s Medical Center and Cornerstone Harvest Church volunteer said she plans to continue attending the branch campus before making a campus change to the main campus in Columbus to fulfill earning her degree.

“I would prefer specializing in architecture where I could design a neighborhood or a subdivision from the ground up,” Oliver said, realizing earning the degree will take time and the architectural job market might be tough when she graduates.

During Friday’s presentation, former NABCJ Lima Association Chairman Shawn Wakefield praised Oliver for the demand and responsibility for an individual to attend college and “the sacrifice that one must endure.” He said her application stood out “because of all of her accomplishments” including Art Club, Students Against Destructive Decisions, Ecology Club, Spanish Club and the dean’s list.

NABCJ Ohio Chapter President Kevin Jones, who also serves as the warden at the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution, told Oliver she should consider interning with the state to design buildings for the correctional system as a way to help her career flourish.

“Our responsibility is to ensure that rather than young people come through the pipeline from school to prison, we want them you to go from school to campus,” Jones said. “We hope that you will continue to be a blessing, not only to your family, but to your community. We hope to provide you with contacts to help you do whatever you want to do, wherever you want to do it — we want you to know your hard work truly does pays off.”

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