Construction Management senior spotlight: former Marine overcomes tragedy to realize dream of graduation

Trevor Brown professional headshot

Growing up in Parker, Colorado, Trevor Brown did not always find school at the top of his list of favorite things. In fact, upon graduating from high school, he was the only one out of a graduating class of 451 to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. Serving as a 6174 Huey Crew Chief, aka “door gunner,” Brown was able to see various parts of the world during his military service.

While spending some time in Italy, Brown was inspired by ancient architecture and structural design that has lasted through millennia. He was impressed with the staying power of centuries-old roads and structures, and realized that he, too, had the desire to make similar contributions.

Brown and his best friend, Austin Sherwood, were deployed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Persian Gulf, when they both applied to Colorado State University. Brown was drawn to construction management, Sherwood to fermentation science and technology. Upon exiting the Marine Corps, both traveled to Colorado to pursue their educational goals.

Austin Sherwood and Trevor Brown, in uniform
Sherwood and Brown

Sherwood entered CSU, while Brown attended community college to complete prerequisite courses. During that time, Brown was able to work in the construction field, doing residential roofing. In transferring to CSU, he found a job through the CM jobs board with the City of Fort Collins working a laborer position on an asphalt paving crew. This was the impetus that led him to discover the heavy construction side of the industry.

Devastating tragedy

However, a devastating tragedy almost derailed Brown.

“On the night of June 23, 2017, my best friend, who had been my roommate both during my military service and while attending college, was killed on his motorcycle by a drunk driver, while on his way to work,” explained Brown. “I would be lying if I told you I handled his death well. My life was put on hold during this difficult time, traveling to Illinois to attend his funeral and spend time with the family. When fall semester rolled around, I wasn’t prepared. Getting out of bed and heading back to campus where we had classes together and spent so much time, was something I dreaded every day. I wasn’t sure if I could make it through the semester.”

In spite of his challenges, Brown was able to pull himself together and carry on with his studies.

“Then one day I woke up and had enough, I decided to make a change and stop feeling sorry for myself,” he said. “My friend would have wanted me to continue my education and graduate from CSU like we had always dreamed about. From that point on I looked at my education as a way to honor his memory. That semester my true life-goals developed. I no longer walked with my head down keeping to myself; I walked with confidence ready to take this world on no matter how hard it tried to test me.” When Brown got knocked down he didn’t just get up, but exploded back to his feet.

Trevor Brown, another marine and Sherwood in front of the Coliseum
Brown, a fellow Marine, and Sherwood

Since then, Brown has become more active in the community and at CSU.

“I became a member of a few student clubs in the Department of Construction Management, as well as engaged in some volunteer activities on a few weekends,” he said. “Motivated by my friend’s memory, I kept my grades up, maintaining As and Bs. My short-term goal is to graduate from CSU with a degree in construction management dedicated to my best friend, for without him I would not be where I am today. My life goal is to become a project manager for a heavy civil construction company.”

The Beavers scholarship

The Beavers, a heavy engineering construction association, clearly recognized Brown’s drive and dedication. Based on a nomination submitted by the CM department, Beavers selected Brown to receive a significant scholarship in keeping with their guidelines for recipients. They state, “In today’s highly competitive world, the modern construction company cannot afford less than the best and brightest personnel. Often, it is not only a case of staying competitive, but of survival.” Their interest in, and support of Brown substantiate that belief.

The Beavers Charitable Trust is a non-profit organization first established in August 1977 through the foresight of the Board of Directors of the Beavers Inc. In 2019 the Trust will generate over $1.4 million in grants. The Beavers Charitable Trust devotes its proceeds for the exclusive purpose of assisting students entering the heavy construction industry. The Department of Construction Management, along with Brown, greatly appreciate both the interest and generosity of The Beavers, in assisting students pursuing careers in the heavy civil industry.

Now married, with a little one on the way, and working as a construction inspector for the City of Fort Collins Streets Department since May 2017, Brown has learned a great deal, for which he is grateful. But his goals have not changed.

“Heavy civil construction has become a vital part of my education in the construction industry,” said Brown. “My experiences with the City of Fort Collins have led me to focus on heavy civil construction. After all the projects I have been a part of, I have become extremely passionate about building roads and highways for the city and state I call home. I strive to continue developing my knowledge and skills in this industry, to eventually become a vital component of any team I work with. It’s an honor to be selected for the Beavers Charitable Trust Scholarship. I am extremely grateful for everything the Beavers organization does and stands for. I hope I can one day do my part and give back to a future student, in a similar fashion.”

The Department of Construction Management is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences

Read about more of the outstanding graduates in the College of Health and Human Sciences.