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Building a Dream: USU Blanding Student's Drive to Construction Career

Building a Dream: USU Blanding Student's Drive to Construction Career


Embarking on a career path requires careful consideration and self-reflection. For Shaun D. Ketchum Jr., the path to his profession in construction management has been a transformative journey. From his days as a middle school student with an interest in construction through his pursuit of higher education and hands-on experiences, Ketchum has overcome obstacles and discovered his true passion.

As his construction skills grew, Ketchum realized that he didn't want to settle for a life of being a "grunt man" and living paycheck to paycheck. He understood the challenges faced by individuals who haven’t attended college or earned industry certifications. The reality of that hit home after he took on two jobs to make ends meet and it fueled his ambition to seek a different path.

He aspired to become a manager in the industry and to leverage the knowledge and hands-on experience gained from working with contractors as a foundation for more education. After pondering what to do, he contacted Pam Hosler, a financial aid counselor at Utah State University's Blanding campus, and discovered that he could take one semester of a certificate program to refresh his skills and potentially secure funding. After careful consideration, he enrolled in the heavy equipment program the following summer.

While in that program, Ketchum realized the value of further certifications in enhancing his career prospects and raising his GPA to secure scholarships. He learned that completing the Certified Commercial Driver's License program would enable him to earn more in the construction industry. With an eye toward the future, Ketchum looked beyond the traditional path and enrolled in additional programs to enhance his knowledge and increase his chances for success.

His dedication to his education, hands-on experience in Blanding’s Construction Technology and Management, and Heavy Equipment programs, CDL training, and earning his associate degree in general technology, have equipped Ketchum with a well-rounded skill set. This comprehensive foundation will serve him well as he ventures into the professional world. His specific interest lies between project management and construction management, two closely related fields that he finds fascinating. He aspires to be among the few who go beyond a bachelor's degree and pursue a master's degree in a related field.

Ketchum recognizes some of the additional challenges and other peoples’ perceptions that he faces as a Native American and a first-generation college student. He acknowledges the limited opportunities traditionally available to those with his background and is determined to make a difference. Ketchum aims to achieve recognition in his field through hard work and dedication. He refuses to let age hinder his progress, acknowledging that his youth is an advantage in pursuing advanced degrees that many in his community may not have opportunities to pursue until later in life.

Ketchum's commitment to professional growth is evident in the list of certifications he has acquired while at USU: CPR, building construction safety, mine safety and health, construction technology and management, commercial driver's license, and heavy equipment operator.

Additionally, he has achieved significant academic accomplishments, including making the Dean's List twice. Ketchum's achievements extend beyond his degree and certifications, as he also earned the multicultural certificate and medallion during the 2023 commencement ceremony when he received his associate of applied science degree in General Technology.

Ketchum attributes much of his success to the unwavering support of his family.

“Without my family supporting me and giving me opportunities to fulfill my desired education goals, I would be stuck working two jobs that I wouldn't have enjoyed in the long run,” he said. “Being a traditional Navajo and Ute man, education holds a purpose in my heart. The feeling it will be holding my bachelor's degree and maybe my master's degree is the dream I’ve wanted since middle school.”

He is currently working on his bachelor’s degree in technology systems with an emphasis in technical management.

Ketchum's journey is a testament to the power of determination and the pursuit of one's passion. His growth from an adolescent with an interest in construction to a motivated and ambitious man seeking higher education and professional growth showcases his unwavering commitment. As he continues to break barriers and redefine expectations, he inspires others who strive to achieve their goals against all odds.



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