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Construction graduate doesn’t let life’s challenges detour her progress

December 08, 2009

In the fall of 2006, Gael Gilliland entered her freshman year of college with a major in construction and, a baby. Having given birth to her first child at 18, she decided to attend Arizona State University after receiving a Provost’s Scholarship, which funded her education.

Gilliland decided to focus her studies on construction management, which is offered at the Del E. Webb School of Construction, because she wanted to be challenged and she felt the degree would help her land a financially stable job in the future so she could provide for her family. She quickly learned that balancing her education and home life would be a constant struggle.

“My first semester I had to withdraw from two classes because I didn’t have the time to learn the material,” says Gilliland, 21. “Running a household, raising your first child at 18 and being a full-time student is hard work.”

With the help of her adviser, Sue Mueller, and her teachers, she was able to attain a sense of balance in her busy life. She says the one-on-one attention from professors helped her succeed in her classes and maintain a 3.25 GPA. Along the way she got married and had a second child.

“One of the best things about the Construction School is how small it is,” she says. “The size doesn’t allow you to get lost among the masses.”

Upon graduation, Gilliland will start working for Norman S. Wright Co. Manufacturer’s Representative. In the long run her plans are to one day co-own a business with her husband. Her advice for those in similar situations is to never doubt yourself or believe you cannot do something. Gilliland adds that getting to know your professors and administration is also an “invaluable experience.”

“My college experience happened because of the support I received from the Construction School,” she says. “I am in no doubt that if I hadn’t had the full backing of the school, I would not be graduating at all, let alone doing it this month.”

Written by:

Natasha Karaczan