For decades, about 25 percent of students at CSU have been the first in their families to earn college degrees. These first-generation students are a testament to the power of a land-grant university to improve individual lives, communities – and the world – by providing access to excellent education for every student with the talent and motivation to earn it.
In 1984, Colorado State became the first university in the nation to offer scholarships specifically for first generation students. The Department of Construction Management is no exception in experiencing outstanding first-gen scholarship recipients.
Four of those scholarship recipients are highlighted here:
Ryan Rohn is from Wiggins, Colorado, and comes from a family of farmers and ranchers. As a child he always enjoyed building and learning how things worked. That interest continued to grow and become a passion as he learned more complex systems. After talking to a few people from his hometown who had graduated from CSU with a Bachelor of Science in construction management, he knew it was the perfect fit.
After graduating this fall 2021, Rohn will join the team at FCI Constructors full-time. His first long-term goal is to earn the position of field superintendent, and work in the field for 5-10 years until he can transition into a project manager position. From there, his aspirations include becoming part of the upper management team with hopes to retire as a vice president/president of the company.
Rohn expresses gratitude, “I first want to thank my family who taught me how to work hard and encouraged me to attend college. Believe it or not, while in high school I had no intention or desire to attend college at a university. My family, especially my mother, Janet Rohn, highly recommended and encouraged me to enroll in college. Now looking back, it has been one of the best decisions I have made. I am truly honored to have such a great support team behind me, and for having received so many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I am proud to be a first-generation student and have to give thanks to my awesome support team. Thank you!”
Growing up in Mead, Colorado, Haylee Sutton originally decided to go to CSU because it was closer to home and she liked the atmosphere in Fort Collins. She selected her classes for her first semester at CSU, planning to be undeclared. She read the course description for CON 101 and was instantly drawn in. In order to take the class, she had to declare Pre-CM as her major; she did. Ever since she’s been passionately making her way through the CM program.
Sutton shares, “My parents had me at a relativity young age of 20-years-old. My mom stayed home with me growing up and my dad worked up from laborer to superintendent in the field. I never knew that construction was the career path that I was going to take until I started my journey at CSU. I grew up around construction, but really fell in love with it through the Construction Management Program at CSU.”
Post-graduation, Sutton has signed with Zak Dirt, Inc., and is very excited to start her career off “with such an awesome company!” In speaking to what it means to be a first-gen student, Sutton said, ““I am very proud of myself for making it to this point in my life. Being a first-generation student to attend college, as well as graduate high school has been extremely rewarding for me and my family. I have such an amazing support system and family, and I wouldn’t be where I am without their constant support and motivation.”
HORACIO GOMEZ and JUAN GOMEZ-LOPEZ
Having graduated high school in Denver, Colorado, these brothers are first-generation students in their family, as well as scholarship recipients, and proud of the accomplishment.
Horacio, a CM senior, has this to say about his future goals, “Life challenges you in ways you may have never imagined. It is what you do with the struggles that determines who you are. I strive to better my family through my next phase in life by furthering my education. I have the ambition to complete what my parents never had a chance to do. My parents have always told me, ‘We came here to give you and your siblings what we couldn’t have. We are not going to tell you what to do, we expect you to do what is going to make you happy and we support that.’” He lives by this as he wants to give back what they sacrificed in their lives to make the lives of their family even better.
Horacio was exposed to the mechanical trade at a very young age because he always accompanied his dad on his side jobs. His father’s passion exposed Horacio to the construction industry, and he considers it a great addition to his life.
He says, “By continuing my career at Colorado State University, I have a variety of paths I can take within the Construction Management major. I have a bias towards the mechanical field and am strongly leaning towards it for my future choice in my career. My family is my motivation and why I strive to do my best. I want to give back to them by taking the opportunity they granted me. I want to show them that they made the best decision by allowing me the opportunity to further my education.”
Similarly, Juan, a CM junior, commented, “When you are growing up, there are always challenges. If you are not willing to take those challenges and learn from them, you will never improve yourself. I want to do what my parents could not do when they were younger. The ultimate goal I have is to graduate with a degree in construction management within four years of college. I have now been looking into obtaining a minor in business because I want to eventually start my own company. Looking into my long-term goals, I hope to start a mechanical systems company where we deal with HVAC and plumbing.”
As a son of immigrant parents, he and his siblings were assured they would always have support from their parents. Juan says, “I have always lived by that and I know they will be proud of me with whatever I do, but I would be prouder of myself for going to college. I want to pay them back all that they sacrificed for us, and for always being right by our side.”
He, too, has been very close to the construction trade due to going with his dad to his side jobs and paying close attention to what he does. His dad told him that he wanted Juan to see for himself another option in life, and if he liked it, he could be a step ahead of many kids when going to college. Juan commented, “This motivated me, even more, to go into college knowing I was already learning many things.”