Scholarship support combined with industry experience prepares construction engineering and management student for success
Choosing a university can be a daunting task for a high school student, but for third-year construction engineering and management student Jeremy Duggan, Virginia Tech was the clear answer. While he loved the campus, the culture, the student-to-faculty ratio, and the food, his choice came down to one thing: financial aid.
Duggan is a Beyond Boundaries Scholar. The program, which came to life in 2015, is a key part in Virginia Tech President Tim Sands’ vision for the future for the university. Beyond Boundaries scholarship gifts help underrepresented and high achieving students reach their dreams of becoming a Hokie.
“Really, it was an obvious decision. It was just a matter of if I was going to get accepted or not,” Duggan said. “These scholarship opportunities have helped my family a lot to pay for college. That’s why I’m here.”
Duggan found his passion for engineering in middle school, but he fine-tuned it leading up to his senior year of high school when he decided to enter the construction industry. While at Virginia Tech, he has been able to focus on that passion even more - with classes focused on design in construction and using software for building information modeling and scheduling.
While Duggan financially relies on the generosity of donors, he donates his time and talent giving back to the university and the global community. His first two years at Virginia Tech, he tutored with the Student Athlete Academic Services Program. He helped football players, swimmers, divers, soccer players, and track and field runners navigate courses in calculus, economics, engineering, and physics.
He also serves as the treasurer for Engineers in Action, a student-run service organization that helps design and build pedestrian footbridges in African and South American communities.
While his classmates travel to places like Bolivia over the summer to see the projects come to life, Duggan stays back to get what he calls a “financial boost” and gain knowledge working in the field with internships.
“I need the work experience if I can get it. And just to get that little bit of extra money also helps out,” said Duggan.
His first semester he received an internship offer from Whiting-Turner, a company that specializes in construction management, general contracting, design-build, and integrated project delivery services.
The global shutdown from the pandemic delayed the start of his 2020 internship. But one year later, he was able to join the company as they worked in his hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia, on a project at the College of William and Mary. There, he split his time between office and field work - putting his classroom skills to use.
“I think the best part was everything that I was doing was important,” said Duggan. “They don’t really give ‘intern’ tasks. It’s not the hard stuff, but it’s valuable to the project.”
The summer was such a success that he plans to return to the project in the summer of 2022. He is also spending the first semester of 2022 with Whiting-Turner in its Roanoke office as part of Virginia Tech’s Cooperative Education and Internship Program.
“It’s been just like a summer term. I’m working on things and learning things every day, sitting in on meetings,” Duggan said.
While in the program, Duggan is gaining valuable industry experience, getting paid, and maintaining his status as a Virginia Tech student. In return, he writes papers on what he is learning and his improvement over the semester.
“For students who take advantage of co-op opportunities, the benefits are tremendous,” said Myers-Lawson School of Construction director Brian Kleiner. “Co-ops offer a ‘deep dive’ into experiential learning, provide students with a job experience, and positively impact student debt.”
As Duggan looks ahead to his senior year, he is ready for the “bittersweet moments” that come with the end to his time in Myers-Lawson, which is jointly shared between the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the College of Engineering, but says those moments wouldn’t be possible without the help of scholarships.
“It’s just one extra support member in my life. It just takes away one extra element of stress,” said Duggan. “It makes everything possible. It’s one less thing I have to worry about.”
Giving Day donations to Myers-Lawson School of Construction enable valuable opportunities both in and out of the classroom as the school strives to offer students the best learning experience possible and create the future construction leaders of tomorrow.