DECEMBER 5, 2023 — With her mom, brother, partner and closest friends in attendance, Bonnie Lee will cross the stage in December with honors to receive her bachelor’s degree in construction science and management.
Lee was born in San Antonio and raised in New Braunfels. After high school, she earned a bachelor’s in business marketing from Texas Tech, then she moved to Vail, Colorado to pursue a lifelong dream of living in the mountains. While there, she traveled and fulfilled a path of self-discovery that led her to move back home and pursue a degree in construction science and management.
Lee’s experiences opened her eyes to the unlimited opportunities that there were for her as a woman in the construction industry, professionally and personally, so she enrolled at UTSA in 2020, at first feeling out of place and vulnerable. However, her construction management classmates, professors and instructors embraced her and were committed to helping her succeed.
In addition to the traditional instruction Lee received, she had the opportunity to learn outside the classroom. This past summer, Lee completed an internship with Webber, a leading commercial, heavy civil and waterworks construction company headquartered in The Woodlands, Texas.
UTSA Today spoke with Lee to learn more about her time at UTSA and at Webber, as well as what lies ahead.
The following story has been edited for length and clarity.
Tell us about the person who was most influential in your educational journey.
BL: My dad has been my main influence. He was the smartest man I've ever known, and he was so inspiring with his knowledge that it motivated me to pursue higher education so I could be like him some day. He always told me how proud he was of me, which pushed me to work harder every day. There is just something so sweet and fulfilling to hear your hero say they are proud of you, which has gotten me through some of the harder times throughout my education. He asked me every day what I was being taught in school and took a genuine interest in the things I was learning.
You held an internship while you were in school. Tell us about that.
BL: I did. I completed a field engineering internship with Webber, a heavy civil construction company based in Central Texas. While I was there, I was lucky to be able to work on two projects: improvements on IH-35 and the the building of a new road. For the IH-35 project, we were widening the road and creating new northbound and southbound frontage roads, demolishing old bridges and building new ones, and reconstructing underground drainage. The other project was a “greenfield project.” We built a new road that essentially created a loop around San Marcos.
When I was an intern with Webber, I shadowed someone each week. I shadowed two surveyors, a superintendent, two field engineers, two project engineers and the project manager. Each of them brought something different to the experience.
Throughout the internship, I learned more things than I knew was even possible to learn. It was information overload but in a good way. It’s hard to put into words exactly what I learned because it was an incredibly enriching and hands-on experience, but I absolutely came out of it with so much more knowledge about heavy civil construction. I was completely out of my comfort zone, but everyone was so helpful.
The internship taught me the importance of being able to work with a team to accomplish the goals, as well as making a plan and sticking to it. Once the internship was coming to an end, I finally felt like I was getting the hang of things, so I’m hoping I can take that momentum into the next chapter when I start working there officially.
The day we shared our end of internship presentations at Webber’s Woodlands, Texas corporate office, I was chosen to go first. I was terrified, but I put on a brave face and crushed my presentation, which was a great feeling.
During our lunch break, Webber’s director of HR (human resources) approached me, shook my hand and asked if I would like a job. I was so flattered and accepted immediately. About a month later, I was contacted by the company with an official offer letter, which I accepted without hesitation.
I will be starting a new career soon with Webber as a field engineer. I’ll be working in the San Antonio area on roadwork.
What advice do you have for fellow Roadrunners?
BL: One piece of advice I would give to all Roadrunners is that when things get tough or you feel lost, stay motivated and push through because the pain is well worth the reward.
Also, get involved, meet people and stay in touch with those people. You never know where that connection could come in handy in the future.
Lastly, be patient with yourself. You may not know what you want to do right away and that’s okay. Give yourself time to learn and grow and chase your passions and dreams as you find them. It is never too late.
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