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Construction career built on dad’s legacy

Construction career built on dad's legacy

Kristyn Comino

14 October 2014: University of Canberra graduate Alexandria Garlan is proud to be building on her late father's legacy by working in construction just like he did.

The 23-year-old is the youngest and only female project manager for Canberra's Banyan Construction, a role she took on last year in addition to her studies, to help support her mother and younger brother.

Alexandria Garlan

Alexandria Garlan says she's proud to work in construction like her late father. Photo: Michelle McAulay

"My father Luke Garlan worked for a construction company in my hometown of Wagga Wagga before he passed away from brain cancer in October 2009, during my first year at university.  I'm really proud to say I'm now a project manager in construction like he was," Ms Garlan said.

Ms Garlan was so set on "following in his footsteps" that after taking a break from her studies to be with her family during her father's illness, she returned to the University and changed from studying a Bachelor of Arts to a Bachelor of Building and Construction Management.

One of four women who graduated with the degree on Wednesday 8 October, Ms Garlan credited the University of Canberra for helping her get a job in her chosen field.

"I don't think I could have gotten into this career without my degree. I think that, particularly for women in construction, having a university degree behind you goes a long way," Ms Garlan said.

"I'm so excited to finally be graduating," Ms Garlan said. "I started in 2009 and studied full-time while working, so it's great to be finished."

The day after her graduation ceremony, Ms Garlan won the Outstanding Achievement in the Construction Industry Award from the National Association of Women in Construction.

Ms Garlan was also recently chosen as one of the stars of the University's new television commercial, which she said was "an amazing experience" to be part of.

During her studies, she was part of a team of four ACT students who won over $80,000 in government grants to develop their application 'SignOnSite', which enables workers to sign on and off a construction site using their smart phone and be found easily in times of emergency.

She has been juggling this new business, her work and studies with volunteering as president of the ACT chapter of the Australian Institute of Builders Young Builders Alliance and also with the ACT Cancer Council.  During her degree she was awarded two personal prizes: a cadetship at international quantity surveying firm Wilde and Woollard and a scholarship from construction company Manteena.

Ms Garlan said that one of the best parts of her degree was having the chance to form networks she still uses outside of the classroom.

"It's great to have worked together with your classmates on a project and then be able to call those same people to collaborate on real-life projects when you're in the workforce."


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