ASU student’s emerging heavy construction career supported by scholarship
Above: Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Victor Evans is making a career change to heavy construction — an essential field for critical infrastructure like roads, dams and bridges that make up today’s built environment.
But the U.S. Army veteran who is studying construction technology and management in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University has faced challenges along the way.
“I’m 32 years old, I have a wife who’s on active duty in the Army, I’ve got two kids who live with me full time, and another who doesn’t live with me,” says Evans, a U.S. Army veteran. “I’m a full-time student and I work between 20 and 35 hours per week when I’m in school. I’ve worn several hats.”
Growing up in Valley Head, Alabama, a small rural town, Evans says his family was extremely poor.
“My parents never really understood the concept of savings or 401(k) plans,” Evans says. “They knew how to make enough money to get to the next meal. I have lived in trailers, run-down homes and even a chicken house at one point because my parents moved every six months to year from the time I was born until my sophomore year in high school.”
When Evans became a father and husband at 18, he knew he needed to bring in more money to support his young family and started working jobs at fast-food restaurants to make ends meet.
However, he knew that his family would need more than just the next meal. Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Evans enlisted in the Army in 2007 as a combat engineer.
“I would love to say that life got easier after joining the Army, but it did not,” Evans says. “My young marriage did not last despite us having three children together. The crazy part about life is that we can always divert the plan. I continued to maintain my Army career and during that time met my current wife, who has been my rock and biggest advocate for the last 10 years.”
Evans medically retired from the Army in 2011 and worked toward becoming an automotive technician, earning an associates of science degree along the way. However, he soon found that he needed to pursue other options.
“With my injuries from the Army, it wasn’t a viable career field,” Evans says. “After about a year of working in that field, I decided it wasn’t something I could do, so I started looking at other options.”
Evans began studying civil engineering. After moving a few times, he and his wife settled in Phoenix, where she’d been stationed as a recruiter.
“Once I got out to Arizona, I went to the Veterans Affairs office and said I just wanted to go to work, but they encouraged me to apply for the construction management program at ASU. It seemed like something I would be interested in, and once I started it, I loved it.”
Building new opportunities in construction
Evans’ academic journey is now being supported by the Lamberson Memorial Scholarship from the Beavers Charitable Trust. The scholarship awards a one-time grant of $25,000 to an undergraduate student going into the heavy construction industry.
The Beavers is a heavy engineering construction association founded in 1955 to support individuals working in or entering the heavy construction industry.
The organization’s Lamberson Scholarship is a memorial to John Lamberson, a long-time member of the Beavers and a former trustee of the Beavers Charitable Trust, their scholarship program.
“After John’s untimely passing, a group of his friends decided to raise money to fund an annual scholarship,” says Dave Woods, the executive director of the Beavers and the Beavers Charitable Trust. “The criteria for selection stipulate that it be awarded to a student with a desire for a career in the heavy construction industry and demonstrated financial need. Each year we ask a select group of schools to nominate a student, which is how Victor was chosen for this scholarship in 2020.”
Evans is the second ASU student to receive the Lamberson Memorial Scholarship, following Sam Schlinger in 2014.
Matthew Eicher, the assistant director in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the six Fulton Schools, worked with Evans during his construction management internship and nominated him for the scholarship.
“He had come into my office earlier in the semester asking about summer internships, and he was talking about how he just needs to graduate,” Eicher says. “So I asked him, ‘What’s your hurry?’”
Evans told Eicher how he’s trying to work as many hours as he can to support his family, that his wife had just been assigned to South Korea on active duty, and on that Monday morning, the entire first floor of his house had flooded.
When the email went out from the Beavers seeking eligible students for the scholarship, Eicher thought Evans was the perfect candidate.
“I wasn’t even aware of the scholarship until Dr. Eicher called me and told me about it and asked me to submit a one-page essay for the application,” Evans says. “I knew a little bit about the association, but I wasn’t aware of the scholarship they had.”
When Eicher said he wanted to nominate Evans for the scholarship, Evans was happy to apply but uncertain about whether he would be selected.
“I don’t usually get picked for things like this,” Evans says. “My luck’s usually not that good.”
So when he got the call from Eicher saying that he had gotten the scholarship, Evans was elated.
Each semester since he’s been a student at ASU in the spring of 2018, Evans has taken between 16 and 18 credit hours and also enrolled in summer classes.
“The Army did not have to teach me a work ethic as I already had the foundation for it,” Evans says. “It did teach me discipline and purpose.”
Reflecting on his ASU experience so far, Evans says his professors have been helpful and take the time to explain concepts students don’t understand as long as they are willing to learn.
Outside of classes, he held an internship with FNF Construction in New Mexico during the summer of 2019. Evans continues to work with the company in Arizona for as many hours per week as he is able. Once his wife returns from Korea, he plans to move to the East Coast.
“They’re a phenomenal company to work for,” Evans says. “I was a project engineer and I got to pretty much run the project when the project manager couldn’t be in certain areas. He taught me a lot, and I’m very grateful to have been out in New Mexico with him.”
Evans looks forward to graduating in December and continuing his career in the heavy construction industry.
“Choosing to become a better man, husband and father has always been my number one priority. I love my family and will do anything to support them,” Evans says. “Life is not worth anything if you have no purpose everyday and life is not fulfilled if you do not have the discipline to get up and chase after your purpose.”
Eicher is happy to see how the construction management program and the internships have helped Evans.
“Things like this make you proud to work in higher education and understand how degrees really make a difference in people’s lives,” Eicher says.
“You get to see how people’s lives change. I’ve seen how students have been transformed through the curriculum, through jobs and internships, and through leadership,” he says. “Seeing that impact for people like Victor is really satisfying.”