Architecture program encourages minority students

By Evrod Cassimy - Reporter/Anchor

DETROIT - While many high schoolers are planning for college, a handful of Detroit Public School juniors are planning for their careers. In fact, they're taking a class to get a head start in a career in architecture even though they're in the minority.

It's an industry that lacks much diversity, but that's the reason behind the Michigan Architecture Preparatory Program. It's exposing high school juniors here in Detroit to a career in architecture.

It's height, cylindrical design and color make the Renaissance Center stand out among other buildings that make up Detroit's iconic skyline. It stands tall alongside others like the Penobscot and the Guardian building. But students in the Arch Prep program aren't just admiring the buildings. They're learning how to design and construct them.

"It's really kind of an architecture 101,” said Paulina Reyes, a teacher with the program. “We don't assume that any of our students know how to draw, draft, even know what architecture is necessarily."

Out of four partnering high schools this semester, this class is made up of mainly Cass Tech and Renaissance High School juniors. They've chosen to take this class and meet every day studying architecture for three hours.

"We face a crisis in architecture. A crisis of diversity particularly in underrepresented minorities," explained program creator, Milton Curry.

Curry created the program to help educate minorities about a career in architecture.

"If everyone is not represented in our educational system, educating the people that design those buildings then there's going to be more of a myopic view as to who and what those buildings are for," said Curry.

"Do you wanna be an architect? Local 4’s Evrod Cassimy asked student Talon Foster.

“Yes!" Foster exclaimed. He hopes this class will help him get into U of M. That's where he wants to work towards his architecture aspirations.

"Even if you don't want to be an architect, architecture can lead to a  bunch of sub level fields," said Foster.

"It's very satisfying. There's like that feeling of ‘Wow! Like this is great.’ said student, Brandon Battle. “This is exactly how--and if it comes out how you wanted it to come out....how you imagined it in your mind, makes it even more fantastic."

The program is only available to juniors at partnering Detroit Public Schools. Funding is provided by U of M Taubman College, A. W. Mellon Foundation, the Kresge Foundation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.  For more information, click here

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