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College of Architecture and Environmental Design Students Partner With Upward Bound on Community Outreach Project

Posted Apr. 1, 2013
enter photo description
Students from Kent State's College of
Architecture and Environmental Design
partnered with students from the Upward
Bound program to help renovate the King
Kennedy Community Center in Ravenna. 

Kent State University (d.i.s.) students from the College of Architecture and Environmental Design partnered with students from Kent State’s Math/Science Upward Bound program for National TRIO Day.

National TRIO Day is designed for Upward Bound programs throughout the country to perform service work. The Upward Bound Program is designed to provide academic support for eligible students interested in post high school education. Students used their time to renovate the King Kennedy Community Center in Ravenna. Partnering with d.i.s. gave the Upward Bound students a relaxed atmosphere to work and talk with the college students.

“The kids were wonderful,” says Beth Bilek-Golias, Ph.D., outreach and service coordinator for the College of Architecture and Environmental Design. 

Bilek-Golias oversees the d.i.s. student initiative that began last year.

“Working with real clients this year, including King Kennedy Community Center Director Lajoyce Harris, provides students with meaningful learning experiences,” says Bilek-Golias. “Designers have a responsibility to give back to the community, and d.i.s. provides design service globally and locally.”

The d.i.s. group spends two to three days a week renovating the community center. The students are remodeling several rooms, including the kitchen.

Kent State alumna and co-founder of d.i.s. Latrice Harrison,’11, believes the group has made significant progress in the community center. 

“Right now, it’s a little hectic, but most importantly, significant progress has been made,” says Harrison. “It’s been even more rewarding that the citizens of the community center have been able to see the transformation step by step.”

Last year, d.i.s. students raised money to travel to Guatemala for one week to build a home for an impoverished family. The goal is to alternate between local and global service.

“We want to provide design service globally and locally,” Bilek-Golias says. “It will give students an experience in both and increase their skill set.”

As the students continue to hammer away at the community center, Harrison believes d.i.s. gives the students everyday applicable experience.

“The experience has been priceless,” says Harrison. “The impact our services has had on the community and the lives we’ve touched alone have made this experience worthwhile. It’s been a consistent learning experience building leadership, management and real-world application skills.”

The d.i.s. students aim to have the community center’s renovations complete in time to meet their commitment to Kent State’s Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement and present their project at its “Showcase of Excellence in Action” spearheaded by Director Tina Kandakai, Ph.D., April 10 in the Moulton Hall, 4-6:30 p.m.

“It was interesting to see the kids start to get comfortable in the short time they were at the center,” says d.i.s. member Jacob Preising. “They seemed to be receptive to learning and having the opportunity to volunteer.”

For more information about, contact Bilek-Golias at or Harrison at