Building a Future
Construction Management grad’s zeal for a team approach garners big wins
MARIETTA, Ga. (Jul 28, 2017) — For Myles Cardenas, high school basketball meant everything to him and defined him in many ways.
“My social life had been built around basketball,” said Cardenas, who played four years of varsity basketball in high school. “I had to recreate myself when I came here.”
Determined to make the most of his college experience when he arrived to campus in 2014, Cardenas, who graduated this summer with a bachelor’s degree in construction management, embraced campus life. He joined student organizations, focused intently on his studies and made time for a little intramural basketball.
“My days used to be filled with school and basketball, and because I wasn’t playing anymore, I knew that I could be working and doing other things,” he said.
Cardenas made a conscious effort to bring the lessons he learned on the basketball court to every aspect of his life, inside and outside the classroom. That strategy earned him top honors from a national professional organization, recognition as Kennesaw State’s Student of the Year, and employment with two prominent construction companies while attending KSU.
During his first year as a construction management major, Cardenas joined the National Association of Home Builders of KSU, the student chapter of the national professional organization.
“I really blossomed with the NAHB chapter,” he said. “I started in 2014 as a presenting member of the team at competition, then VP and finally, my senior year as president.”
Cardenas led the 2017 KSU team to sweep the competition at the International Builder’s Show, taking first in the nation for the NAHB Student Chapters Residential Construction Management Competition for four-year programs.
“The competition is a lot of work, but it is the most rewarding experience that I have ever been a part of,” he said. Cardenas also was honored with NAHB’s Outstanding Student Award.
Being involved with teams has been a huge part of Cardenas’ success. He served as VP of the Golden Key International Honour Society, was a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success, and was inducted into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
This spring, the Division of Student Affairs named Cardenas as Student of the Year.
“Myles Cardenas is an exceptional KSU student and contributes in a variety of ways to improve campus life for his fellow students,” said Kathy Alday, assistant vice president for student affairs.
Before coming to Kennesaw State, Cardenas attended a small private college in Kansas to follow his dream of playing college basketball. After a demanding athletic schedule and rarely seeing his family, Cardenas returned to his hometown of Conyers, Georgia at the end of his first year.
His family, in anticipation of their son’s return, scouted out the best school in the state for him to study architecture and discovered the former Southern Polytechnic State University.
“Even as a young kid, I was always interested in the designs of buildings,” Cardenas said, who came to the Marietta Campus in Fall 2014. “Architecture is where I thought I wanted to be.”
Cardenas had attended a vocational high school for two years to focus on architecture and construction trades. On advice from mentors and former teachers, Cardenas explored KSU’s construction management program and ways to build his experience in the field.
An ambitious student, he attended the university’s career fair his first semester and soon landed a position with Batson-Cook Construction, a Southeast general contractor, where he worked for nearly two years.
“What I admire most about Myles is his persistence and ability to rebound,” said Khalid Siddiqi, chair of the construction management program. “Myles was a part of KSU NAHB team that placed 23rd in 2014, 10th in 2015 and first in 2016. That says a lot about his character and resilience, which coupled with his humility makes him a favorite.”
While attending national NAHB competitions, professionals and organizations looking to hire sought out top students like Cardenas. After interviewing with a national home builder at the national competition in early 2016, Cardenas accepted an internship in land development, his academic concentration within the University’s construction management program.
“I’ve been able to see the industry from a different vantage point in this internship,” said Cardenas, who has worked for CalAtlantic Homes in Atlanta for the past year. “It’s great having people who want me to shadow them so that I can learn as much as I can.”
What hooked Cardenas on construction management initially was the collaborative, team effort involved in the field, he explained.
“Construction Management is about managing the building process,” he said. “We aren’t necessarily builders, nor do we tell the architects how to design, but we do ensure that the facility is structurally sound and we manage how to do that.
“It’s estimating and project management and controlling the project from start to finish. We work together with architects and engineers as one big team.
“For me, it all goes back to basketball. I loved being on a team and that team mentality is what made me choose construction management in the first place,” he said.
– Tiffany Capuano
Photos by Lauren Kress
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 41,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the second-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 126 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.