Big dreams, bright future

2018 grad moved in at Syracuse University in the fall to study in one of the nation's top architecture programs. She says the "opportunities to excel at Notre Dame are endless."

The Syracuse University School of Architecture’s undergraduate program is ranked #3 in the United States. It's also the fourth oldest architecture school in the country. With such bona fides, it's not surprising that 2018 alum Destiney Sandle, one of NDP's superstar artists, decided to enroll in the program.

"One of the reasons I'm in Syracuse University's architecture program is because of their ranking compared to other university programs," she said back in August shortly after officially moving in on campus as a new freshman. "I also chose Syracuse in general because of its location in the same state as New York City. I believe I will be able to learn and grow even more based on this surrounding area."

That learning and growing at Syracuse actually began nearly two months before the semester started for Sandle as she "unofficially" had been taking three classes at the university since June 30. And it's because of that head start that she's not so apprehensive about starting her college career so far from home. 

"After taking the summer classes here, I felt very comfortable going into my freshman year," she said. "I'm also excited to start new friendships that could possibly last a lifetime and to grow even more into a mature, young lady. However, I must admit I'm a little nervous about tackling such a vigorous major. Architecture students have been known to get very little sleep. But I know the hard work will pay off."

And we're pretty sure Sandle will be to handle such a workload. Just ask her high school art teacher.

"When I think of Destiney, the first few words that come to mind are determination and creativity," said Sandy LewAllen, upper-division art teacher and chair of the school's art department. "She has exhibited an exemplar work ethic throughout her four years at NDP and especially during her two years in IB Visual Art. She continually pushed herself and her boundaries to become the artist that she is today."

LewAllen added that while many think that art is mostly about natural talent, it's also at least equally about hard work. 

"Destiney possesses both talent and great-big doses of focus and hard work," she said. "I know she has a very bright future and I could not be more proud of her accomplishments and the person that she is."

Sandle graduated Notre Dame Prep last May with a portfolio full of accomplishments, awards and honors, including the  Kirby R. Smith Art Award, which is presented annually to an NDP senior student-artist who exemplifies among many of the former art teacher's attributes his hard work and talent.

A year ago, Sandle also was chosen by the Canvas Pontiac program, which is sponsored by the Pontiac Downtown Business Association, as one of only 25 area artists to have their art reproduced and enlarged into eight-foot-by-10-foot canvases and placed around downtown Pontiac in 2017. 

This past school year she was recognized as a regional and national Scholastic Art Award winner, and during her four years at NDP, she's received an additional and impressive array of Scholastic awards, including three Regional Gold Keys, one Regional Gold Key Portfolio, one Regional Silver Key, two National Gold Medals, one National Gold Silver, and one National Silver Medal for her portfolio titled, "Everything in Me." Plus, Sandle and fellow 2018 grad Maria Mora spent an exciting few days in New York City in June to accept their National Gold Medal awards at Scholastic's annual awards event.

Among the other awards Sandle's earned at NDP are the President’s Award for Educational Excellence, a Syracuse University Grant, an Architecture Portfolio Award and a Certificate of Excellence in Computer Science from Notre Dame Prep.

On top of all of that, Sandle actually found time to play three sports in each of her four years in Notre Dame's upper school — volleyball, basketball and track — earning her entry into the athletic department's esteemed "Dirty Dozen" club. She acknowledges that it wasn't just her own hard work and talent that resulted in such a busy and productive high school career.

"The opportunities to excel at Notre Dame are endless, but there also is plenty of help available from the teachers and counseling staff whenever you need it," she said. "I've had a few ups and downs during the past four years balancing being a three-sport athlete, my academics, and other activities, but when I finally found a rhythm, the Notre Dame experience became even more enjoyable. Though the academics could be challenging at times, I learned many lessons of adversity that will help shape my future endeavors at college. I am so thankful to have been part of this Notre Dame community."

She is also thankful that NDP has such a progressive art curriculum and philosophy.

"Notre Dame's art program is amazing in the sense of the opportunities and help that is offered to each student in it," she said. "I was never constricted in the creativity or the size of my ideas, but instead I was encouraged to expand and further my thought process."

Sandle took art classes taught by both LewAllen and Ned Devine during her tenure at NDP and she said their impact on her art career allowed her to discover herself through several different mediums. "With the help of Mrs. LewAllen, in particular, her guidance at Notre Dame has molded me into the artist and young lady that I am today," she said. "Overall, the program is like a family with a welcoming learning environment where it's very easy to express yourself."

But it wasn't just art class that energized Sandle's schedule at Notre Dame.

"While art is one of my passions, writing is another," she said. "Mrs. [Katrina] Sagert was also a major influence in me finding my voice as a writer. She encouraged me to open up within my writing, which allowed me to create a personal connection to the audience and ultimately become more comfortable as a writer. I also have to say another influential figure at NDP for me was Mrs. [Mary Jane] Pasko. She definitely was a caretaker and frequently served as a mother figure on campus to me and to many other students."

And to prove once again how Notre Dame students graduate with a deep understanding of the school mission and how it fits into their lives, Sandle's career goals are telling.

"Probably the biggest reason I decided to pursue architecture in college and for a career is because I've always had this drive to give back to people who are in unfortunate situations," she said. "By taking my artistic abilities and my passion for building my dream home, I wanted to give to others something that I was never fortunate to live in — a house. With a degree in architecture I want to build homes for people in poverty or work on revamping impoverished communities in countries such as those on the African continent."

She said, however, that this need is not limited to just people in third-world countries. 

"The need for good, affordable housing also exists for those even in this country who may have lost their house in a natural disaster or just perhaps couldn't afford one."

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at