Alejandra Maravilla, 24, was offered eight construction management positions before finishing her undergraduate degree from Lyles College of Engineering in spring 2016. But, before that could happen she had to gain experience in the industry.
“I knew that somehow I needed to figure out how to stand out,” Maravilla said. “I’m not the best in school and my math is stronger than my English, but still not strong enough to relay on my GPA, so I always knew I had to figure out how to stand out from my peers. I knew internships and extracurricular activities would help.”
Maravilla, a former double major in civil engineering and construction management with a minor in business, was inspired by the shop classes she took at Madera South High and a female civil engineer who came and spoke to her Upward Bound class.
“Shop classes yes, but my parents are my true inspiration,” she said. We were a single income household because my father has been disabled since the age of 24. “He will soon be receiving his third kidney transplant.”
Her father has been unable to work due to kidney failure.
“He has always contributed to the family by helping around the house, harvesting his own garden, becoming our mechanic, and being a supportive father to the best of his ability. My father and mother have taught me that nothing is impossible unless you decide to give up, they have overcame every personal obstacle that has been presented to them,” Maravilla said.
She stayed on course to completing a degree in civil engineering from Lyles College and was just 24-units shy of completion when she decided to drop her double major, she dropped civil engineering and keep construction management with a minor in business. When she made the decision she also had been working full time and maintained an average of 18 units.
“I feel really comfortable with my decision and I am very happy that I chose construction,” Maravilla said. “I got to the point of where I knew I loved the theory and the fundamentals engineering but I did not see myself designing. I spent all last summer
Although there were personal struggles and setbacks, she continued to stay dedicated to her degree. She was also active in Fresno State student organizations serving as president of the student Association of General Contractors (AGC) and a member of Students in Construction (SIC). She also worked as a student assistant for the Instructional Technology and Resource Center and a project engineer intern with Bernards. As the first in her family to graduate from a university, she hopes to inspire her siblings and help her parents as best she can.
“My family is my motivation. My little sister is the next one to attend Fresno State and if needed I plan to help her financially so does not have to work full time to cover her expenses. I consider myself as my family’s backbone and being able to continue being that person they can count on is important to me.”
After completing four internships between April 2014 and May 2016 at Gilbane, Durham Construction, Teichert Construction and Bernards, Maravilla accepted a position as field engineer at Turner Construction. But, it wasn’t easy. It took four-years to obtain her first internship.
“I made a stance and somehow I was able to stand out. I was so excited I couldn’t believe that finally someone believed in me,” she said.
She says each internship had something different to offer and every experience helped her gain skills she needed to help her prepare for a career in construction management.
“Every internship has taught me the importance of good communication skills,” she explained.
At Turner, she hopes to get experience in the field and get a better understanding of how everything operates.
“My short term goal is to become a project manager and my long term goal is to become CEO. I am also considering going back to school for a masters in geotechnical engineering so I can become a consultant.”
Maravilla’s advice to students is “It does not matter what your background is if one has the desire to succeed in life then we can. We are the only ones that can make accomplishments happen regardless of the circumstances.”