GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- A student, Niani Cartwright in the Southern Westchester BOCES Architecture and Interior Design program and a senior at Woodlands Senior High School in Greenburgh, N.Y., has won the Thomas Olivo Leadership award.
Cartwright was was recently awarded a $500 scholarship from the New York State Association of Career & Technical Education Administrators for her dedication to the program and her outstanding leadership abilities.
The honor is given to "only a few select students" from across New York State who demonstrate excellence in student leadership, according to an announcement.
The award honors C. Thomas Olivo who, in 1966, served as the New York State Education Department’s director of vocational education, when VICA (now known as Skills USA) was first established.
Cartwright's teacher, Christine Ireland, said she has gone above and beyond what was required of her in the program, especially since she only joined the class last September and completed two years’ worth of learning into one. She also scored highest on the NOCTI exam, an occupational competency test.
“Niani is really hard-working,” said Ireland. “She was a joy to have in class.”
A high honors student in her home school, Cartwright said she has always been interested in architecture and drawing. As a child, she enjoyed played the The SIMS game, which allowed her to create her own neighborhood and city online. She even designed interiors with furniture, wallpaper and other details.
“I got really hooked on it,” she recalled. After enrolling in an AP Studio Art class at her school, Niani quickly realized she needed more specific architecture-related skills if she was to be accepted into a suitable program.
Since enrolling in Ireland’s class, she has acquired a number of essential skills, including expertise in SketchUp, a 3D modeling software, as well as Photoshop, Illustrator and AutoCAD.
Cartwright, 17, also has an extensive portfolio from her year in the class, a tool that was essential to her being accepted to the SUNY Purchase Visual Arts Program.