Temple Times Online Edition
    DECEMBER 2, 2004
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Turner Construction helps student
build engineering career

Darius Williams (right), recipient of the Turner Construction Scholarship, was honored at a reception at Turner Construction Co. in May. At the reception were (from left) President David Adamany; Pamela Williams, Williams’ mother; Michael Kuntz, vice president and general manager of the Philadelphia office of Turner Construction; and Keya Sadeghipour, dean of the College of Engineering.

Although Temple electrical and computer engineering freshman Darius Williams still has four years of school to complete, he pretty much knows he will be going to work for Turner Construction Co.

That’s because Williams is attending the University on a five-year, $25,000 scholarship that Turner created last year to send a graduate of Philadelphia’s George Washington Carver High School for Engineering and Science — Turner’s adopted school — to Temple to study engineering.

For many years, the Greater Philadelphia corporate community has “adopted” individual Philadelphia public schools, making significant contributions to students. A large number of individual companies, such as Turner Construction and its employees, have directed major resources to the schools, including the infusion of funds, the delivery of material goods, mentoring and tutoring, scholarships for college-bound students, internships, technical support and career guidance, among others.

“If I hadn’t received this scholarship, it would have been very difficult for me to attend college without incurring serious debt,” said Williams, 18, a North Philadelphia native. “I’d like to thank Turner and Temple for coming together and allowing me this tremendous opportunity.”

The scholarship was the brainchild of Herb Young, Turner’s director for community affairs, who approached Michael Kuntz, vice president and general manager for Turner’s Philadelphia office, about a coordinated effort with Temple to provide a scholarship for a student at one of the company’s adopted schools. Turner adopted Carver six years ago.

“I started talking with Meredith Keiser, director of corporate relations at Temple,” Young said. “Meredith and I wanted to think outside the box, so we said, ‘Let’s have a corporation and an educational institution come together to support one of the prominent high schools in Philadelphia. Let’s find a deserving student and give that student a full scholarship.’”

Turner agreed to fund the scholarship at $5,000 a year for five years, with Temple making up the difference, Young and Keiser said. The scholarship would be specifically earmarked for a Carver student who wanted to major in engineering at Temple.

Five Carver students applied for the scholarship last academic year, with Williams being selected “on his own merit against four of his peers,” Young said.

“Darius is the kind of individual that we are recruiting at Temple,” said Keya Sadeghipour, dean of the College of Engineering. “We are really proud of him and this scholarship supported by one of our top industry partners. The Temple College of Engineering-Turner Construction Co. relationship goes back a really long way, and this scholarship is a new page in that relationship.”

Williams began his studies at Temple in August. During his first semester, his classes include pre-calculus, chemistry, American literature, programming in Java and introduction to engineering.

“It’s been a pretty good experience so far; the transition has been fairly easy,” said Williams, who is living on Temple’s campus in the Hardwick Residence Hall. “My high school actually prepared me quite well for the math and science courses.”

The one area Williams has had to work on, he said, is time management. “If you don’t manage your free time correctly, it will cut into the time you’re supposed to be doing your school work,” he added. “And if that happens, you won’t succeed.”

The only surprise Williams said he has found since arriving on Temple’s campus has been the attentiveness of his professors and instructors.

“You always hear in high school that college teachers don’t care about you,” he said. “But I’ve discovered that as long as you show interest in the topic, your teachers will take all the time you need to help you.”

While he attends Temple, Williams will be interning with Turner during the summers as part of the scholarship.

“We want to make sure he’s a great engineer when he leaves Temple and that there is a place for him here at Turner,” Young said. “That’s the whole mission of what we’re trying to do here.”

“This is truly a partnership with Temple,” Turner’s Kuntz added. “It’s the way we do business together in this city. It means a lot for us to be involved with Temple in this scholarship and it is simply the right thing to do for a great individual like Darius Williams.” u

Preston M. Moretz