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Industry Involvement Pays Off for CM Students

Sponsors support student scholarships in spite of the circumstances

Since 2015, the BYU Construction Management (CM) program has partnered with dozens of construction industry businesses to fund student scholarships and promote industry engagement for the coming school year. These efforts have been led by the BYU Construction Management Industry Advisory Council (IAC). The IAC consists of approximately 30 industry professionals, with some being alumni and others being friends of the program. The CM program has held annual events that the council supports and hosts, including golf tournaments, alumni dinners, fly fishing trips, and football pregame events. Companies pick donation amounts associated with participation opportunities at the activities. These companies cover the costs of hosting the events with the surplus being set aside and awarded as scholarships. All these events are great networking opportunities for students and industry professionals alike. At activities such as the golf tournament and student mentoring fishing trips, students are paired with industry professionals, which gives students a chance to discuss future career paths with industry leaders in an informal setting.

During the previous 4 years, between $20,000 and $30,000 in scholarships were raised and awarded by the IAC each year. These events have grown in popularity and more companies have been willing to get involved at higher levels to help host the events and fund the scholarships. This year's events were canceled due to COVID-19; there were no tournaments, dinners, trips, or football activities for companies to attend. Despite this, the IAC and several construction industry businesses still committed the money to student scholarships. Rather than having less money for scholarships this year, the fundraising efforts yielded $48k to be distributed among 22 students.

The scholarship application process the CM program follows is particularly unique because it is divided into three categories of scholarship awards: Financial Needs, Academic Excellence, and Well-Rounded (those with good experience, who are excited about the industry, and engaged in the program). Approximately one-third of the total amount of scholarship money is allocated to each of the three categories. Using this category system in conjunction with an application and interview process allows the scholarship money to reach a broad range of students in the CM program. Here are highlights of two of this year’s scholarship winners including the benefits and influences provided by the scholarships.

Battsagaan Ilch

Battsagaan Ilch is a senior in the program who came to BYU from Mongolia a little over three years ago. Battsagaan's interest in construction began with his first job, where he worked as an English translator for a Mongolian construction company that had been tasked with building 1100 miles of railway. Though he was interested in the company's work, Battsagaan didn't have a degree and could not take on different tasks besides translation. He thought to himself, "Why can't I become the one who knows the language and has the industry training and expertise to get the job done?" Battsagaan then realized to do so, he would need a college degree.

When Battsagaan was 16 years old, he became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and soon afterward, he heard about BYU. For the longest time, he imagined himself going there for an education. Battsagaan has had a wonderful experience in the CM program. The culture of the program has allowed him to get to know nearly all his peers and become close with professors. Battsagaan spoke highly of the mentorship the professors have provided him with and how they have shared their academic and field experience. During his time in the program, Battsagaan has participated in several internships in different types of construction, from residential to heavy civil construction. He currently works for Geneva Rock Products and plans to remain in the heavy civil construction industry after graduation.

Battsagaan has dedicated his life to returning to Mongolia to improve the nation and its people. Mongolia has a great need for strong leadership in construction and Battsagaan believes he can use his education to make a big difference in his home country. When Battsagaan isn't working and studying, he can often be found participating in many different activities, such as basketball, ping pong, and chess. He can also be found spending time with his wife and 4-month-old daughter. Battsagaan and his wife run an online campaign to fight against the corruption in Mongolia that has caused poverty and injustice in the nation. Their campaign encourages youth to stand against corruption and strives to create a space for people to join in this cause.

Battsagaan is deeply grateful for the generosity of the sponsors; he recognizes they gave their money and resources to help students like him achieve their academic and professional goals. In the future, Battsagaan wants to give back and support younger generations in the same way. One of his dreams is to set up a personal scholarship fund for underprivileged students encouraging them to obtain a higher education.

Savannah Taylor

Savannah Taylor is a junior in the program from Aiken, South Carolina. Savannah loves being a part of the program and enjoys getting to know her peers and professors. She feels that the network and relationships she's building now are incredibly important. She is the president of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) student chapter and a vice president in the Women in Construction club presidency. She also works as a teaching assistant and was on the team that took 2nd place in the 2020 NAHB Student Competition.

While Savannah's major is construction management, she is also pursuing a minor in music where she plays a variety of instruments at a high level. She is a top ten internationally recognized percussionist and has also played tuba in the BYU symphonic band, upright bass in the orchestra, sousaphone in the marching band, and has played in a steel drum band. As different as construction management and music might seem, Savannah has managed to fuse the two pursuits into one comprehensive mission.

After attending several career fairs, she connected with Mortenson Construction, that had a project just right for her in Washington. She was put on a project building a performing arts building which allowed her to merge her love of construction and music. The project's smaller size allowed her for a hands-on experience throughout the entire construction process while also providing an incredible opportunity for her to see how her two passions could coexist.

Once Savannah graduates from BYU, she wants to get field experience in preparation for her pursuit of an MRED. One day Savannah would like to come back to BYU as a professor to teach another generation of students and use her perspective and examples of work experience to further their education. Savannah also wants to use her position in the industry and as a professor to encourage more women to join the construction industry. She hopes to show them that it is possible to achieve their goals and be there for them as a role model and mentor.

Savannah is so grateful to the sponsors who made her scholarship possible. The money she was awarded will allow her to focus even more on school and her program involvement.