Carol Sagor is a mother of two, a fiancé, a professional transportation and construction specialist and a University College (UC) student. Sagor, who hopes to graduate in December 2020, is working toward a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering after completing two associate degrees in liberal arts and engineering science at Onondaga Community College. Sagor chose civil engineering after taking an aptitude test at the Onondaga/Cortland/Madison (OCM) BOCES. “The test showed I had a strong skill set in math, and science,” Sagor explains. “While I considered being a doctor, I knew that field wouldn’t be right for me.” She has a clear understanding of how things should be designed and built, so the experience reinforced her desire to become an engineer and led her to the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Syracuse University.
Sagor put her coursework to use this past summer working for the New York State Department of Transportation, where she earned certification in concrete field testing. As a transportation and construction inspector, Sagor confirmed that the specifications for concrete were accurate and that contractors were pouring the concrete correctly.
This semester, Sagor is focusing on her education and her family. When she is on campus, she is fully dedicated to her learning. Like many adult students, Sagor knows that when she gets home, she will have to prepare dinner, help her son with his homework, and handle many other responsibilities—all before settling down to do her own homework.
Returning to school at UC after a gap in her education and career was initially very intimidating for Sagor, but discussions with her academic and financial advisors created a sense of excitement. “The advisors were helpful in explaining my options and offering information on grants and scholarships,” she recalls. “They also explained the opportunities a college degree could afford.”
Sagor said that being an adult student in classes with traditional-age students was somewhat daunting. “But all the professors I’ve had make me feel welcomed. They are encouraging and understanding of how my schedule is different than other students.” Sagor also said that having female engineering professors has been extremely inspiring. In turn, they are aware of the benefits Sagor’s life experience brings to the classroom.
As a first-generation college student, Sagor’s advice to others is to consider all your options. She also stresses the importance of asking questions. “I would never have received the information I needed to decide on a career in engineering if I hadn’t asked questions,” she says. “People are more than willing to help. You just have to have the courage to go after what you want.”