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ASU construction major builds and improves on career

42-year-old Navajo Nation member earns ASU master's in construction management.
December 12, 2016

Army vet Darrell Stanley returns to school, will graduate with master's of science in construction management

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2016 commencement. See more graduates here.

ASU student Darrell Stanley knew in his early 20s that he wouldn't always be able to rely on his body for a steady paycheck.

After an honorable discharge from the Army, Stanley became a certified refrigerator repairman in 1996. Several co-workers told him welcome aboard, but to also start looking for another job.

“They told me about their back problems and physical ailments as they got older, and that I should use my GI Bill to get a college degree,” Stanley said. “It took 18 years, but I eventually got the message.”

The 42-year-old member of the Navajo Nation received his bachelor’s degree in construction management from Arizona State University's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering in 2011. Tribal leaders back home in Kayenta, Arizona, took note of his 3.3 GPA, and made him an offer.

“They said they’d pay for my education if I went back to school to get my master's, so I took advantage of it,” said Stanley, who works as a construction manager for the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community.

Stanley has lived up to his end of the agreement and this week graduated with a master's of science in construction management.

He says he’s thankful to ASU for teaching him “the realistic side of construction, what’s going on now and what will happen in the future.”

Stanley also answered a few questions about his experience at ASU.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I had been in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) trade for 18 years and as I got older my perspective changed. My days of climbing roofs and crawling into attics became challenging. This was when I decided to go back to school to pursue a professional career in construction management.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

A: I understand that education is a key component to be a leader in construction management. Knowing that employers seek managers who can solve problematic issues by innovation and experience. The ASU Del E. Webb School of Construction Master’s Program was my answer to widen my awareness and perspective.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I am aware that the construction industry is moving in a new direction and new advance cutting-edge technology has innovated construction methods. It brought better decision making, which resulted in projects becoming smarter. This trend has made construction faster, lower cost for the owner and has tremendously improved on building sustainability and functionality. ASU is the school to prepare me.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Study now and sleep later.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I had a lot of interesting discussions and collaborated with a lot students at the College Avenue Commons atrium. I consider this to be my favorite place.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am the father of three children. I plan to continue to guide my children to earn their degree as well, and they are all enrolled at Mesa Community College. I also plan to support my wife as she will be pursuing her master’s degree in the spring of 2017.

Also, I intend to fulfill my time mastering the processes and procedure of construction. I have a passion for building image modeling and learning how to effectively incorporate it into construction. I plan to spend my time collaborating and interacting with companies that have mastered the use of BIM.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: To continuously find products or materials that can be reused repeatedly instead of using it once and dispose of it. For example, plastic grocery bags have been recycled and re-engineered into weather-resistant 2-by-4’s. 

Top photo: Darrell Stanley completed his master's of science in construction management while both working full time and taking a full course load. He stands outside Wells Fargo Arena shortly before the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering convocation, Dec. 13. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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New ASU graduates encouraged to lift up their communities

New ASU graduates are told, "You are responsible. There is no one else."
December 12, 2016

'You are responsible,' degree-holders are told at fall 2016 commencement

Arizona State University's newest graduates were encouraged to lift up their communities as they find success with the degrees they received Monday.

ASU awarded about 5,200 bachelor’s degrees for the fall semester, with the undergraduate commencement Monday morning at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, and about 1,800 graduate degrees were awarded at the graduate commencement that afternoon.

ASU President Michael Crow told the students at the undergraduate ceremony that they are graduating “on the best day in the history of our country.”

“We’ve never been at a moment in history closer to the point where equality and liberty and justice are now much more than theoretical concepts. They are things we are actually pursuing with a vengeance — a positive vengeance,” Crow said.

But he warned the graduates that they face unique challenges.

“Every single person that is in our society has something to contribute, and we’re at a particularly hazardous moment right now where large numbers of people are feeling left behind,” he said.

“There’s a lot of resentment and a lot of anger and a lot of stress as a result of this.

“You as freshly minted college graduates have to think not only of your own success, or your family’s success, but also the broader community’s success in everything that you do,” he said.

“You must think more broadly than the small group you’re connected to.”

Crow said this is ASU’s final lesson: “You are responsible. There is no one else.”

After the undergraduate commencement on Monday morning, a number of convocations are planned for special-interest groups and ASU's individual colleges and schools. The fall 2016 semester includes 206 graduates from the Starbucks College Achievement PlanThe Starbucks College Achievement Plan, launched in 2014, offers full tuition reimbursement to employees who pursue an online degree through ASU. — a record number.

Several new graduates said their ASU education has prepared them well for their next step.

Sam Stefanski, who earned a degree in vocal performance, said he plans to teach in his own studio and to perform.

“I plan on bringing music to the next generation. I’m building my own program,” said Stefanski, who sang both the national anthem and ASU alma mater during the ceremony.

“ASU gave me the flexibility to work during my undergrad and to build my own clientele and students,” he said.

Brandon Kamentani earned a degree in pre-law and justice studies and will attend law school.

“Every class, every course I took made me completely confident in what I want to do and allowed me to figure out what I want my career in,” he said.

Top photo: Criminal justice student Alexis Cook cheers as she and other students receive their degrees during ASU's fall 2016 undergraduate commencement on Dec. 12. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now