For the first time, two Syracuse University students have been named in one year as Astronaut Scholars. Syracuse is one of two universities nationwide with multiple recipients of the Astronaut Scholarship this year. Bethany Murphy, a senior environmental engineering major…
LaVerne Sessler ’16, G’17, Civil Engineering & Business
It isn’t hard to see how LaVerne Sessler ’16, G’17 ended up enrolled in the H. John Riley 3+2 Engineering and M.B.A. program. He’s been around construction equipment and business his entire life.
His family owns and operates Sessler Wrecking, a company that specializes in the demolition of bridges, and industrial and commercial structures. But while his family’s expertise is in taking structures down, Sessler’s is in putting them up.
Since beginning work on his degrees, he has completed construction management internships at Hunter Roberts Construction group in New York City and the Dubai Construction Co. He also holds the distinction of being a Syracuse University Remembrance Scholar. This summer, he will work at General Electric in a transportation management internship. Each opportunity brings him closer to his goal of being a professional engineer.
Why did you choose Syracuse University?
“My uncle, Chris Shaffer, attended SU and played football. When I was younger, we’d always come to campus for games and tailgate parties because he’s always been a die-hard Syracuse fan. I really liked Syracuse and subconsciously always knew that it would be the right choice.”
“I like the culture. It’s not strictly an engineering school. You have every major you could think of on campus and it’s nice to know people from other majors. A lot of my friends are in Newhouse or Whitman.”
“It’s big enough that you don’t see the same people every day, but small enough that you can make connections with professors. I know everyone in my civil engineering program. Professor [Sam] Clemence was my ECS 101 professor and since then I’ve attended his talks and become good friends with him. He was our mentor for the Dubai internship program and he traveled with us there. He’s always willing to help. He’s a down to earth, great guy.”
Why did you choose to take on an M.B.A. in addition to your civil engineering degree?
“I was looking to go the construction management or engineering management route, and this was an opportunity presented to me in my sophomore year, so I applied. I wanted to pursue something more than my bachelor’s and this program gave me the opportunity. Since junior year I have been taking half my classes in Whitman School of Management and half in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.”
“Shifting my mindset back and forth from engineering and business works out well. I get a perspective from both sides. It takes a little getting used to, but I enjoy it.”
What are you a part of outside of your academics?
“I ski and play intramural sports. I’m in Delta Tau Delta. I do a lot of philanthropy with my fraternity brothers. We have a softball tourney that goes to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.”
“It adds a lot to my college experience. In addition to all my friends that I have met in classes, I have a whole group of people that I can hang out with and that I can connect with on another level.”
What do you hope to contribute to the world with your education?
“I see civil engineers as the people who hold everything together. The roads, the bridges, the buildings—all of the infrastructure that surrounds us is civil engineering. I look forward to the day I can build something and say ‘That was me. I contributed.’”
“I think my management skills will also play a huge role. With those, you can do more than just be the designer. You can manage the entire project and look at it from a higher level. Even if you aren’t leading the effort, you can understand why the company is doing what it’s doing, and it gives you more insight into how things get done.”