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Engineering student recognized in top 50 female college leaders

Submitted by Mehr-Zahra Shah on November 6, 2013 – 4:45 pmNo Comment

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At 3:03 p.m. Sarah Brown was already ready for her 3:15 interview. Dressed in a cream lace dress and a burgundy pashmina shawl, she extended her hand and gave a firm handshake while flashing a bright smile. Her punctuality and professionalism make it no surprise that Brown was named one of the top 50 female college leaders in construction engineering.

Brown always knew she was interested in math. However, it was during a volunteering trip in Louisiana to help rebuild communities after Hurricane Katrina that Brown truly found her calling.

“A city is, in a sense, the basic unit of a region, and to me it was fascinating to have such a broad impact that would ripple out to an entire regional community just by working to rebuild even a small area in a community.” Brown said.

Her experiences helped lead her to her decision of going into civil and construction engineering. She is currently the president of the UALR Civil and Construction Engineering Student Organization. Brown is also a member of UALR’s commercial Building Team, which went to Dallas to compete at the Associated Schools of Construction student competition. She has also interned with McCarthy Building Companies Inc. of Texas, which has been recognized as a top 10 training company.

On top of all these commitments, Brown is also a Donaghey Scholar in the university’s top honors program. With such experiences under her belt, Brown shows that she is already a truly dedicated and accomplished female leader in the construction engineering field.

This fall, Brown will attend a Women’s Construction Leadership Seminar in Omaha, Neb., funded by Kiewit, which is among the largest engineering and construction companies in the world. Brown had to compete with students from all over the U.S. for this coveted position. On top of being chosen to attend this esteemed conference, Brown was also recognized as one of the top 50 female leaders in construction engineering by the Kiewit corporation.

When asked about her prestigious recognition as a top female leader, she replied, “It really is a humbling moment.” She attributes her award to the Donaghey Scholars program and her professors. “Donaghey helps with opening a lot of opportunities, and my professor really helped me through the process,” Brown said. In fact, it was Brown’s professor who sent her an email urging her to apply for the seminar.

Brown, a self-described female advocate, said she was “really looking forward to the speeches by project managers and other female leaders in construction engineering.” Brown went on to say how the seminar builds motivation through such speeches. “Even now, as a female, construction engineering is difficult to establish oneself in, but during the time of these female speakers, there were even more difficulties.”

Brown also hopes to meet other female students like her interested in construction engineering, as well as to learn about other opportunities available in the industry.

Her love of architecture and construction even trickled in when she was talking about her study abroad trip to Europe as part of the Donaghey Scholars program curriculum. Brown said her favorite place on the tour was Germany, “because of its castles such as the Neuschwanstein castle in the city of Munich.” She went on to elaborate on the beautiful intricate details on the monumental castle.

Brown was also quick to point out the differences in the city layouts between Europe and the U.S. “When I first came to Europe, I was a bit surprised by how different the cities looked,” Brown said. “It was interesting to see how they worked around existing structures, since they do not have open spaces to build from scratch like we do.”

Although there is no such thing as a typical weekend for Brown, ideally she likes to spend time with her friends and go rock climbing. In fact, one of her friends actually introduced her to her newfound hobby. She considers it is a good break at times from work.

She stressed the importance for college students of prioritizing and managing time. Brown pointed out how during college, since there are so many opportunities and clubs to participate in, students often let other things such as their grades slip. Her advice to other college students is to “stay focused and do not put your hands in too many pots!”

Although Brown has not made any official plans yet, she said, “Right now, I think I am leaning more towards graduate school.” In the future, Brown hopes to pursue a career in the non-profit sector. “I am really interested in construction after events such as natural disasters,” she said. “I know I really want to go out and do something.”

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