Last weekend, May 5 to 7, 2023 was a great and happy one of fulfillment for our man, Architect Fitzgerald Umah and his young family. All of them drove from Fairbanks, Alaska to Anchorage the most populated municipality and largest city in the state, for the ceremonies marking the graduation of the class of 2023 of the University of Alaska at Anchorage, UAA. A grand event it was.
Fitzgerald, who already possesses a Master of Environment Design – Architecture, from the University of Lagos in 2006, received the Master of Science, Project Management of the University of Alaska at Anchorage last weekend. He was nominated to be the Graduate student speaker for the College of Engineering graduands, where he shared the story of his journey through graduate school to further encourage students by reminding them that while life is full of challenges, it is also full of opportunities.
Recall that on November 3, 2021, we at Epa published an article by Fitzgerald titled “Come With Me To Alaska” where he invited our readers to come and ‘enjoy’ the unique life of an Alaskan resident. As you probably know, Alaska is the most extreme US state, in distance northwards and westward, and in weather, temperature etc: https://epa.com.ng/2021/11/03/come-with-me-to-alaska-by-fitzgerald-umah-guest-writer/ .
From that original article, we learnt that Alaska, the 50th State of the United States of America, was a place where the temperature can fall below -35° Celsius. Compare that temperature to Lagos’ top of 38.9°C and you know how his body may feel when he comes in and out of Nigeria.
Many of us know that Alaska is a beautiful place. Yes – it is the US state at the northwest extremity of North America; a semi-exclave of the United States which borders the Canadian province of British Columbia and the territory of Yukon to the east and has a maritime border with Russia’s Chukotka Autonomous Okrug to the west, just across the Bering Strait.
Russia offered to sell Alaska to the United States in 1859, and it became a state on January 3, 1959.
So after two years of study, Fitzgerald has successfully concluded his MSc in Project Management to add to his previous course in Arctic Engineering at the same UAA. It was during that first course that his curiosity got the better of him when he found out that 21% of land in Alaska is permanently frozen (Permafrost Area); over 90,000 Alaskans live on permafrost area; about 40% of Alaska land mass is water and gets frozen in winter that trunks drive over them to shorten their travel time; Alaska is about 1,800 Island and most of the communities are not connected by road so they rely on air and sea transport for supplies; Alaska has about 400 Airports (they have more airports than many countries).
And Fitz takes us through his experience of the last two years at UAA:
My Alaska Journey Is Getting More Interesting – Are You Still Coming With Me?
In 2020, the Coronavirus pandemic disrupted the global supply chain, and this disruption revealed the fragility of the construction industry. Many projects were delayed or suspended, while some were canceled. In the fall of 2021, I started my graduate journey with admission to the UAA: University of Alaska Anchorage, for the Masters in Project Management program.
As an international student, I took my first Master’s class remotely from Lagos, Nigeria. Since taking my first class here at the College of Engineering, I knew I was on a journey of many possibilities.
I faced many challenges throughout this period, and though they were like huge mountains, I learned that the giant mountain to conquer is oneself by keeping my gaze on the goal.
Two years later, through many high-value experiences and academic rigors, I am thrilled to share that I have completed my Master’s in Project Management. My journey here has been filled with immense growth, learning, and valuable insights that will continue to shape my future endeavors.
Throughout this program, I have gained a deep understanding of project management methodologies, tools, and best practices, empowering me to tackle complex challenges and deliver successful outcomes. The curriculum enhanced my technical skills and honed my leadership, communication, and critical thinking abilities.
My gratitude to my professors and mentors at the University, who provided guidance and support. Their expertise and industry knowledge have been invaluable in shaping my professional development and preparing me for the dynamic project landscape.
I am happy to have worked with them to develop a schedule management methodology that predicts building construction delivery period, cost track delays, and predicts cost increase. This product will help in managing projects in the construction industry.
I’m equally grateful to my classmates who made this journey a rich, exciting, enriching, and rewarding experience in collaboration and collective growth. Together, we have shared insights, tackled real-world case studies, and built lasting connections that will continue to foster professional development and opportunities.
I’m grateful to my wife and children for their patience and support.
As I enter a new career chapter, I look forward to applying the skills and knowledge gained during my Master’s program to drive impactful projects, lead cross-functional teams, and deliver results that exceed expectations. I am eager to contribute to organizations that value innovation, efficiency, and effective project management.
I’m open to connecting and exploring avenues for my expertise to add value.
Once again, I am grateful for the support and encouragement I have received throughout this academic journey. Here’s to the next chapter of growth and professional success!
IMAGE CREDITS: Fitzgerald Umah