Daysia Klossner is a first-generation student who will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in construction management this month from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She is currently a project estimator at Baldwin & Shell construction company.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m from North Little Rock, Arkansas, and attended North Little Rock High School, home of the Charging Wildcats! This year, our football team placed second in our division, and we won the state championship in 2017. Rooting for our football team was one of my favorite memories about high school.
During high school, I took Mandarin Chinese. This was a great experience because most high schools only offer Spanish. The hardest thing about learning Mandarin Chinese is confusing the meaning of some words because they sound alike. For example, “mom” sounds a lot like “horse.” You could accidentally offend someone.
How did you develop an interest in construction management?
I worked at Home Depot for almost four years where I sold lots of different types of materials and equipment. I always wondered what some of the customers did for work and what they were creating with these materials. Later, I found out that UA Little Rock has a great construction management program. One of my earlier mentors, Dr. Lashun Thomas, taught me that you can rock the construction world and still be feminine.
You’re currently a project estimator at Baldwin & Shell. What does an estimator do?
An estimator meets with owners and provides cost estimates and timelines. They also give owners advice about things that might affect their initial vision of the project. Every project is completely different. My latest project is a fire station in Malvern, Arkansas. Now, when I pass a fire station, I’ll have a good idea of what’s inside.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the construction industry?
Due to COVID, everyone is required to wear masks and have their temperature taken wherever you go. I’ve also noticed the home improvement industry is drastically growing since we all are spending a lot more time at home. In commercial construction, K-12 campuses are expanding so they can have more space to keep students six feet apart and safe.
What were some of your favorite courses at UA Little Rock?
I loved the building information modeling course because it gave me the experience to work with architecture-based 3D computer modeling. For my project, I designed a “pink palace,” a four-story hotel with a second floor state-of-the-art gym with a view of the city, decorated with cherry blossom trees on the exterior. The best part was being able to walk through my model using a virtual headset provided by Dr. Manry. The best thing about studying construction management is the overlap with other disciplines. For example, I took classes about human resources, business management, and accounting. These courses have been extremely helpful with my career and my networking abilities.
What organizations do you belong to?
Last year, I was the vice president of the UA Little Rock Honor Society, National Society of Black Engineers, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and secretary of the UA Little Rock American Institute of Steel Construction. Currently, I serve as president of the National Society of Black Engineers, where I aid members in finding scholarships and job opportunities.
Who were some of your mentors?
Mike Tramel, former chair of the construction management department, is absolutely amazing. He’s well-known in Little Rock, which really helps create opportunities for his students.
What is your favorite memory of UA Little Rock?
Last academic year, when I was an ambassador for the College of Engineering and Information Technology, I really enjoyed helping new students move into dorms and teamwork and organization on a large scale.
Why should prospective students get into construction management?
Construction management creates a huge impact on the community and the people in it. For instance, Baldwin & Shell built the new North Little Rock High School, buildings on the UA Little Rock campus, and medical facilities. This makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself.
What is your advice for new students?
My advice to other students and new professionals would be: don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t ask questions, you won’t learn. Lastly, there’s a place for everyone in construction, especially if you are a team player.
The commencement story was compiled by Toni Boyer Stewart.