Martin Spears ’12, Civil Engineering

July 13, 2015

My name is Martin Spears and I graduated with a B.S. in civil engineering in 2012. Aside from engineering, I played on the club lacrosse team, participated in many intramural sports, and was an avid fan of the basketball, football, and lacrosse teams. After college, I jumped straight into the “real world.” Just two weeks after school I started off with my current employer, CDM Smith, a global engineering and construction firm which focuses on various solutions in water, environment, transportation, energy, and facilities. Specifically, I travel to various projects around the country providing construction management and on-site engineering services. I find that my education is applied on a daily basis in the work I do, and is fundamental to my success in employment. My time at Syracuse University was filled with learning, wonderful experiences, and quite a few hardships—from the classes, to the sports, the nightlife, and the all-nighters… after all is said and done, Syracuse is a place which I will forever call a home away from home. One of the most important things Syracuse University provided me with was a set of incredibly valuable connections. Early in my time at Syracuse, I found myself struggling with my original choice of major (computer engineering). I felt I couldn’t continue in computer engineering, but also knew that I wanted to stay with the engineering school. After some research and a little soul searching, I stumbled upon civil engineering. Despite being over a month and a half into my first semester, Professor Sam Clemence took a chance on me, facilitated my transition into the major by helping me enroll in all of the required courses, guided me through any coursework that I had missed (all of it got crammed into two weeks, I might add) and ultimately became my counselor and mentor for the remaining years to come. It would be a lie to say that the transition was easy, but looking back on it now, switching into civil engineering was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I quickly found that Professor Clemence wasn’t the only one in the department I could trust and rely on. My classmates (and now close friends) were welcoming, my new professors were understanding and helped ease the transition, and most importantly I had finally found myself surrounded by people who shared the same interests and goals. Sure, I had my moments with certain classmates and professors, but who doesn’t! In fact, one professor that I had thought held a grudge against me for the majority of my college career eventually gave me a recommendation that ended up being one of the main reasons why I got the job with my current company. To this day, I consider my classmates and professors some of the best friends I have ever made. And of course, with a school the size of Syracuse, I also need to give some credit to the friends I made outside of my major. They are awesome too. Those connections have ultimately proved invaluable to my success as a person, and I can honestly say that they are more lasting and deep than almost any other relationships I had made prior. Put simply, I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. My advice to you? Learn from everyone and everything around you and take nothing for granted. No matter what you encounter, in some way, shape, or form I can guarantee that you will learn something from it. Whether it’s an extremely hard class, or a professor you just can’t stand, take every moment in, because just like that those four years will be behind you. It’s hard for me to even imagine I graduated three years ago! Although everyone’s experience is different, I know that anyone that has attended, currently attends, or will attend Syracuse would share many of the same sentiments I have shared with you today. Syracuse will forever be a part of my life, and I am extremely thankful for that. I am glad I have had the opportunity to share this with everyone, thank you for reading, and most importantly, Go Orange! Please feel free to contact me any time at [email protected] if you would like any other advice about Syracuse, life after school, or just want to reach out to a fellow alum. Thank you!