“2020 felt like I was walking into a vast pool of water and with each step the anxiety set in that I was slowly losing grasp of the ground.” The year 2020 was rough for UA Little Rock Graduate, Candice Randall. But as in all seasons, there were good moments. Meeting her goal of graduating with a bachelor’s degree was one good moment amidst the turmoil for Candice.
Candice was raised in Sherwood, Arkansas, and has always had a knack for building and designing. “I started off with Legos, building homes in Sims, then I went to a STEM school where I was able to participate in more hands-on learning such as building small facilities.” Majoring in construction management was a perfect fit for her.
While at UA Little Rock, Candice worked hard to complete her degree. She held internships at Nabholz and CDI Contractors. Associate Professor Chris Ray recalls that in school “Candice’s performance in class was a direct reflection on her internship and work experience with CDI.”
She was also active in student organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and The Muslim Student Association (MSA).
The Hardest Part of 2020
Then came 2020. “The year 2020 hit me like a train and changed my life dramatically,” says Candice. “It was one of the most challenging years of my life. COVID-19 changed so many people’s lives in the professional and personal sense. That year so many events happened – COVID-19, death rates rising every day, the fear of getting sick, not being able to see friends or family, presidential elections, riots, and massive layoffs.”
Candice’s mother was also sick during all of this. “When my mother was very sick, I remember showing her the email that I finally graduated on paper. I could tell from her eyes that she was proud of me,” Candice recalls. “From that moment on, I knew that she knew it was okay for her to pass on because she finally accomplished her goal… Seeing me graduate college.”
Candice graduated in December of 2020, but it wasn’t the experience she had envisioned. “I lost my number one supporter, my mother, and that is what hurts the most about 2020. She was one of my biggest cheerleaders when it came to ‘anything to do with Candice’, and I wish that she and I could have celebrated me finally getting to walk across that stage to receive my degree. Going to college was one of our biggest goals for a very long time and once I got there it did not feel right without her by my side. I know that she would have been so very proud of me for making it this far.”
“Once she (her mother) passed away and I graduated it took some time to recalibrate myself and figure out what meant the most to me in life. Despite going through one of the worst chapters of my life, I pulled myself together and made a detailed plan of what I wanted to do going forward. I did a lot of self-searching on how my life would be after my mother passed away.” Candice spent more time by herself, spent time with her family, and traveled to to refocus.
Landing the Job
“Like so many others, I experienced the sting of a layoff from a job that I absolutely loved. It was hard for me to fathom that I no longer had a job to go to, it seemed like my daily routine was gone.” Then Candice found a position with ECC, the Environmental Chemical Corporation. “ECC is an employee-owned federal government prime contractor that primarily does work with the Department of Defense. They do many other things too, such as environmental remediation, disaster recovery, energy, munitions response, and international development. I am currently an operations assistant certified in CQC-M.”
Candice is currently working on the Little Rock Air Force Base – Repair of the Primary Runway Project. “It is a $180 million project. As an operations assistant, I work under quality control.” Her daily tasks include:
- Managing various documents (coordination drawing, specifications, contract documents, reports, and logs).
- Estimating future projects.
- Leading and attending meetings.
- Compiling data from multiple sources, request for information, submittals, Sympathizing information and documents preparation.
- Serving as a key coordinator of calendar management and assist in organizing work schedules for field staff.
- Aiding in completing progress reports, schedule updates, and expense reports.
- Completing general administrative duties: photocopy, filing, maintaining supplies.
“Getting my construction management degree has been extremely useful to me at ECC,” Candice acknowledges. “Everything I learned from that program I use daily.” Candice recalls being taught “pay applications, contractual jargon… and so much more,” noting how the program creates its lessons from real world construction applications and is taught by field experienced instructors. “I am grateful for the construction management program. It taught me so much about the construction field.”
Candice Moves Forward
“One of my favorite writers is Sylvia Plath. Whenever things get too hard, I reflect on this quote: ‘And by the way, everything in life is writeable if you have the outgoing guts to do it. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.’” Candice has shown her bravery and perseverance by recollecting herself and putting away her self-doubts to move forward. The heightened anxiety of 2020 left Candice with a sense of urgency to plan, do better, be appreciative of what she has, and knowing that she is resilient. “I have done a lot of self-healing and reaching out to loved ones while they are here,” she says. “I finally have peace of mind and a place of work that I can call home. As simplistic as this sounds, life gets better, so strive for what you deserve!
We are proud of Candice for working through a difficult year and a terrible loss. She continues to strive for better and share her positive attitude with those around her. We look forward to seeing what accomplishments will come her way!