Posted February 7, 2024

Temple University bioengineering student shows appreciation for DPS through art

 Temple University bioengineering student trades in her textbooks for art supplies, drawing a picture for the Department of Public Safety.    

Photography By: 
Matt Petrillo
Temple student Venkata Pallavi Aakarapu drew a picture of the Department of Public Safety building located at North 11th and West Berks streets.

“I’m drawing you a picture, and it’s going to be a surprise.”

Temple University Security Officer Gary Price was all ears when he was told that by Venkata Pallavi Aakarapu, a senior bioengineering student who also has a passion for drawing.

“We have been having weekly conversations and one day, she started showing me all these different drawings she created, incredible stuff,” Price said. “The content, the accuracy, the coloring and the shading. It was all incredible.”

For more than a year, Aakarapu would stop in weekly to DPS headquarters, located at 1101 W. Montgomery Ave., where they would both offer each other friendly conversation from Price’s security desk. 

She said that Price had been a great mentor of hers and helped her navigate situations with friends and classes. And for Price, well, it’s his job to help.

“Whenever she had a problem, I did my best to give her honest advice,” he said.

She appreciated his help so much that she was determined to draw something he could hold onto after she graduates.

“I do pen and ink, so mostly illustrations,” she said. “Now that I’m finishing up my collegiate career, I wanted to leave something for the university.”

Aakarapu’s passion for art began at age 4 and grew over the years, especially during her time at Temple between studying for her rigorous classes and taking multiple labs. Diving into her artwork was an escape from it all.

“I would love to be an animator, like to make shows or movies, if I wasn’t studying bioengineering,” she said. 

“The security officers, police officers and everyone who makes up the Department of Public Safety have been helpful and have made me feel safe. So I wanted to give this as a gift to them.”

Price didn’t know what the picture would encompass, other than knowing it would be an incredible piece of art. 

“Soon enough, when she showed me the picture, it made me think about how much time it took, how much thought it took to put it on paper, because it was just so accurate,” Price said.

Aakarapu said the picture is for all of DPS to “thank them for their service.”

Vice President for Public Safety Jennifer Griffin plans to hang the photo in the lobby of DPS headquarters for years to come.

“It’s students like Venkata who remind us of why we are proud to serve the Temple community,” Griffin said. “Her thank you and her picture will be remembered here for a long time.”

“This was just her way of thanking us,” Price said. “It made me really really proud. It made me feel special to be a part of that. It really did.”