As a young boy in southwest Denver, Bryan Flores-Amezquita likely would not have believed you if you told him he’d be graduating with a degree in construction management from Colorado State University.
In May, he will be the first in his family to receive a college diploma.
Flores credits his father, who he’d worked with on construction sites from the age of 15, for motivating him to pursue college.
“He was like, ‘I know you can get something better. I want you to study, get a good degree, and not be working a job like mine,’” he said.
Flores attended KIPP Denver Collegiate High School and credits his counselors there for helping him navigate his path to CSU. “I don’t think I would have attended CSU if it weren’t for [them], honestly,” he said.
Flores said he initially felt slightly out of place in the university setting.
“It was a culture shock,” he said, recalling walking into his class as one of the only students of color. “I didn’t let that get to me, because I worked as hard as [my classmates] did to get there.”
Flores joined CSU Key Communities, a network of learning communities designed to empower and support first-year, second-year and continuing students who identify as first-generation or of color along their journeys to and through college.
He volunteered with Los Caminos, a student-led tutoring and mentorship program supporting the educational and career goals of bilingual Latinx and Indigenous high school students. He also served as a Construction Management Ambassador for his department, leading tours and representing the department during undergraduate orientations.
From 2018 to 2020, Flores competed with the Associated Schools of Construction’s mechanical and commercial teams, an experience that helped hone his public speaking and presentation skills while opening his eyes to “the way industry works.”
“Bryan embodies what it means to be ‘Ram Built,’” said Molly Weisshaar, academic success coordinator with the Department of Construction Management. “He impresses through generosity, kindness, commitment to community, and ability to lead by example.”
In Fall 2017, Flores secured an internship with Swinerton, which led to two additional internships in the summers that followed. And in August 2020, the company offered him a full-time position as a project engineer, which he will start in July 2021.
Inclusivity and mentorship have become passions of Flores’ as he prepares for his new career. He’s already considering ways to give back beyond graduation by brainstorming with a few close friends and classmates around the possibility of creating a scholarship for students pursuing construction management degrees.
“We have to give everybody an equal opportunity,” he said, emphasizing the need for accessibility in the construction industry. “We have to start building buildings that are more ADA accessible.”
Flores offered words of advice for current and future undergrads: “Get involved as soon as possible. Get to know your professors – they are your best friends and some of your biggest support systems. Don’t be afraid to reach beyond your comfort zone.”