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Sofia Medina

Sofia Medina

Hometown: San Diego, California

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day is a reminder of the progress we have made with gender equality, and the progress that remains to be made. To me, International Women’s Day is about recognizing and honoring the many achievements the women in my life and all women around the world have made. As a woman in Construction, it is important to raise awareness of the need for gender equity. I hope to break the male-dominant stigma that comes along with working in the Construction industry. I strive to overcome any challenges that I face, bring a new perspective, and empower women throughout this industry. I find it inspiring and motivating to see the success of my female colleagues. Being a woman means being strong, hardworking, independent, successful, and capable.

What woman inspires you and why?

A woman that inspires me is Tasha Turner. She is a Project Engineer at Balfour Beatty. I worked alongside her on three middle school renovation projects last summer during my internship. She inspires me because she is a successful and strong woman in this industry. She managed two jobs, one at Balfour Beatty, and another outside job along with working on her Master’s degree and juggling her personal life. She was a role model and a mentor to me last summer throughout my internship, and still is to this day. Tasha is very intelligent, kind, and organized. She was always there to help with absolutely anything I needed, answered any and all of my thousands of questions, and was very thorough with teaching me what I needed to know. She motivates me to continue my education and begin my career as a Project Engineer.

Why did you choose to study construction management?

My father has been in the construction industry for over 30 years as an Independent Contractor. Growing up he would take me to work with him during the summers and I would sit and watch him work for hours. Some may think that this might have been a boring or mundane thing to do, but I was mesmerized by the work he did. I enjoyed seeing how everything came together, piece by piece, and watching the progress of the projects over time. I would always ask if I could help, and loved the hands-on experience that it brought. He would drive me by old projects that he had completed years before and point out to me that he helped work on it. The pride he had seeing those completed projects as buildings that were still being used to this day is something that I will never forget. I have always been very intrigued by the building process, but had never thought of it as something I would do in my future until just a few years ago. After attending San Francisco State University for Biology, I felt the need to change my career path because I was not passionate about that subject and could not see myself working in that industry. I was first introduced to NewSchool through my brother, who is a NewSchool graduate and who also studied Construction Management. I saw how happy and successful he was with his career. He would come home after work and tell me stories about the projects he was working on. Every time he spoke about it I thought to myself that this is something that I am interested in, and something that I could be successful doing as well. I was inspired by his success and decided that I wanted to do the same. I transferred to NewSchool in the Summer of 2019 and cannot be more happy with my decision. My interest and passion in Construction and the building process has only grown since beginning going to school here. I truly enjoy learning from such successful well rounded individuals who have countless years of experience in the industry and are truly passionate about the subject. I want to work on and manage projects that will be there for years to come. Just as my father would drive me back to look at projects that he had completed, I would like to have the same sense of pride and drive my friends and family, and even children someday, showing them projects that I had a helping hand on completing.

Why should women and girls pursue an education in the architecture, design, or construction management industry? Why is it important to encourage women and girls?

Women and girls should pursue an education in Construction Management because women are underrepresented in this industry and there are endless opportunities. Women can bring a new perspective to this industry and simultaneously create beautiful functional spaces that bring joy to those who use it. It is important to represent and encourage other women because this is a male-dominated industry. Empowering other women is important to help them to realize their self-worth, intelligence, and talent.

What’s something interesting you’re currently working on? Personal or academic.

Right now I am working on completing my Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management. I am mostly excited to begin my internship with Swinerton this summer. I will be working on a healthcare facility project in Coronado as a Project Engineer Intern alongside one of NewSchool’s alumni, Athena Valdovinos. I am eager to begin working with Swinerton learning from another female in this industry. I cannot wait to begin this learning experience to further my knowledge in the Construction industry and for the opportunities it may bring me as I approach graduation.

What do you think is the biggest issue today facing women of your age?

There are many challenges women and young girls face in society everyday. I think the biggest issue women of my age face today is their self-perception and body image. With social media being so popular in modern society it places unrealistic standards on women that can take a large toll on their mental health. Many of the images seen on social media are photoshopped to some extent which makes women believe a false perception of what others appear to look like as well as themselves. It is important to promote body positivity, no matter what you look like, and to put your mental health as a top priority.

What has you most excited about the future?

I am most excited to see other women flourish and succeed in this industry. I am also very excited to begin my career in Construction Management and bring a new perspective to this industry. I plan on graduating from NewSchool with a Bachelor’s of Science in Construction Management and a Minor in Interior Design in the Winter of 2022. I see my future in the Construction industry headed towards a Project Engineer role, eventually making my way up to Project Manager. I wish to obtain my CMIT, OSHA, and LEED certifications and work on green building projects in the future. I also seek to continue my education at NewSchool to receive a Master’s Degree in Construction Management.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their education?

As a first-generation college student, continuing my education at NewSchool and being able to study a subject that I am truly passionate about is an opportunity that my grandparents, nor parents got to experience. I would love to encourage other women to take the opportunity to begin or to continue their education, in Construction Management, or in any career for that matter! The first step is always the hardest, but I am positive that an education will bring many benefits and opportunities your way that may not be available otherwise.

Juan Vivar

Hometown: Yuma, Arizona

In which branch of the military did you serve?

United States Army

Years of military service

13 years

Why did you choose NewSchool?
To obtain a bachelor’s of science degree in construction.
How do you apply your military experience to your education?

By applying leverage on my core values I developed during my time in service, I continue to strive for my overall goal (BSCM) regardless of the adversities I am presented with.

What has been your favorite thing about attending NewSchool?
I appreciate the extensive knowledge and material I receive from my professors during lectures. I’ve also come to cherish the interactions I’ve had with up and coming designers.
What are your career goals after you graduate?

I plan to pursue a career in Natural Disaster Recovery.

How has your experience in the military and in college prepared you for your future?

My time in the military has made me aware of how I want to serve humanity. I want to use the knowledge and experience I’ve gained at NewSchool and apply it towards the passion I have for serving others.

What would you like people to know about the life of a student veteran?

As a “student veteran,” I’m just a student same as everyone else.

What advice would you give to veterans who are thinking about pursuing a college education?
Just do it!