Today@Sam Article

Construction Management Students Honored In Hard Hat Ceremony

May 1, 2024
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd

Michelle Boyd (middle row, third from right) and John WeHunt (bottom row, first on left) take a group photo with the hard hat recipients and the leaders of the construction management program.Sam Houston State University recently held its first-ever Hard Hat Ceremony, which recognized the achievements of students in the Construction Management program housed in the Department of Engineering Technology.

Students within the department began advocating for SHSU to hold a hard hat ceremony last year, after seeing similar ceremonies at neighboring schools. After hearing from their students, faculty members approached Michelle Boyd, the undergraduate coordinator for career and technology within the department, to see what she could do.

“We talked about it, the construction management faculty and I, and we decided this is a great opportunity to provide a deeper enrichment for the students and give them a chance to celebrate,” Boyd said.

After putting their heads together, the faculty decided to honor three semesters’ worth of students at the ceremony. They included students who graduated in the summer and fall of 2023, those poised to graduate during spring 2024 commencement as well as select students who distinguished themselves to their professors and could attend the ceremony. When looking for someone to emcee the event, all heads turned to John WeHunt, a construction management lecturer.

"It was an honor and my pleasure to emcee the inaugural SHSU hard hat ceremony,” WeHunt said. “I could see from the students' perspective that they both enjoyed and valued the opportunity to be honored and to honor each other.”

Isabel Rivera-Burkholder receives a hard hat from Professor Min Jae Suh.Isabel Rivera-Burkholder, who graduated in the spring of 2023, was heavily involved in the department. During her time at SHSU, she was a member of the Sam Houston Construction Association (SHCA), which was established in 2007 to provide a student chapter of the Association of General Contractors of America. Rivera-Burkholder also worked as an intern until she was hired as assistant project manager on the Gibbs Ranch Facility project, allowing her to be involved from start to finish.

“I didn’t know I was getting a hard hat,” Rivera-Burkholder said. “I wanted to show up to support and experience the first hard hat ceremony. I was given a hard hat by Professor Suh, who was one of my professors while going to Sam Houston State University. I like to try as much as I can to stay involved with the university.”

Rivera-Burkholder was also one of the students who had started reaching out to faculty members about establishing a hard hat ceremony on campus and was thrilled to see that her voice was heard. Her excitement was shared by Boyd and the other faculty and staff members within the department as they saw a great turnout for students receiving their hard hats as well as those who came to cheer on their classmates.

In the future, Boyd is open to and excited about the prospect of expanding the ceremony by potentially holding it every semester, adding more recognitions and opening the event to family and friends of the students. Through this, Boyd is hopeful that even more students and alumni will get involved and stay involved with the college.

“I think it’s the traditions that help enrich the student’s experience,” Boyd said. “When they leave Sam Houston, they’re going to leave with a memory that is going to make them look fondly back on the university and be more likely to engage with the university. I think it’s ceremonies like this that really will help have alumni interested in connecting with us.”


This event was made possible through the support of Dr. Amy Salazar in Student Success and funds donated by Quanta Services to the TSUS System.

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