From Building His Skills to Building the Region’s Most Innovative Spaces

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Muhammad Ahmad

When most people think of a construction site, they think of the hard hats, bright yellow vests, and tall scaffolding. But, there is another equally important behind-the-scenes part of construction – the project managers who play a critical role in getting projects started and completed on time.

And it’s that career path that captured the passions of Muhammad Ahmad. “I wanted to become a business major, but I also felt the desire to work with my hands,” said Muhammad. “For me, construction management was the best of both worlds.”

But, pursuing that path proved challenging. As one of the oldest of 9 siblings, Muhammad played a critical role in supporting his mother at home in Montgomery County. That meant he couldn’t take the time to move away for school, nor could he spend hours at a time commuting to a campus far away from home.

When he learned that he could pursue a B.S. in Construction Management Technology from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), on the campus of the Universities at Shady Grove (USG), he enrolled right away.

“My USG experience was invaluable. I don’t think I could have gone to school and completed it in the time that I did without USG being here,” said Muhammad. “To me, the Power of 9 means opportunity and collaboration. It’s the unique collaborative effort between these 9 universities to provide an education opportunity to the community that everyone can benefit from.”

In addition to USG’s close proximity to home, Muhammad was able to pursue his degree at USG because he was awarded a full scholarship through the USG Kendall Scholars Program. He began working closely with other scholarship recipients and staff advisors, and felt his personal transformation taking effect. “Through working with that team and all of the other representatives at USG, I found my inner voice,” said Muhammad. “I found my ability to communicate with people from different backgrounds and vantage points, and my ability to connect with people through speeches and community efforts.”

One of the requirements of his UMES construction management program was the completion of two externships. After completing his first externship, Muhammad landed his second externship with Coakley & Williams Construction, Inc., which then turned into a full-time job offer. He’s now been a project manager with the company for seven years, and credits UMES at USG for his success.

“UMES at USG is the main reason why I received my externship and then a job with Coakley & Williams, but it also helped me hone my social and technical skills that have propelled me as a leader in both my industry and my community,” said Muhammad.

“When I think about how far I’ve come since starting my classes at USG to when I graduated, the amount of growth was immeasurable. Looking at me then versus me now are two very different people, and that’s all thanks to the Universities at Shady Grove.”

Muhammad says the day in the life of a project manager means hard work, long hours, and a lot of team effort. In many ways, it feels similar to his time at USG, because he’s constantly relying on the tools and people around him. “I think that my experience at USG is the reason that I push for success every day,” said Muhammad. “It’s why I’ve been at Coakley & Williams for seven years, and why I am going back to USG for my graduate degree with UMUC. USG taught me to be my best self.”

Find your transformation at the Universities at Shady Grove. #Powerof9

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