By Tom Ramstetter
NKU Marketing + Communications

Nothing was going to stop Maria Small from earning her Bachelor of Science in construction management.

Nothing.

Not a time crunch, a busy work schedule, or even the need to take 17 and 18 hours per semester to finish her degree in a year.

And now the 26-year-old mother of one from Cincinnati will graduate from NKU Saturday, Dec. 13, with her degree from the Haile/U.S. Bank College of Business and will move into a full-time position as an estimating engineer for Messer Construction Co. later this month.

“I think there's one thing I'd like people to know and that's this: if you want something bad enough, nothing will stop you from getting it,” Maria says.

“The only reason I am where I am right now is because I have wanted this so bad for myself, for my daughter, and for our future and there was nothing that was going to stop me from making it happen.”

Maria was a transfer student from Cincinnati State just 12 months ago. Once enrolled at NKU, she did a lot of planning and researching course availability in order to finish as quickly as possible.

Maria amassed 49 credit hours over the spring, summer, and fall semesters this year — no small feat.

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Maria Small, a 26-year-old mother of one from Cincinnati, will graduate from NKU Saturday, Dec. 13, with her degree in construction management from the Haile/U.S. Bank College of Business and will move into a full time position as an estimating engineer for Messer Construction Co. later this month.

“It's been fun,” Maria says. “And crazy. I'm honestly not sure what I'm going to do without the chaos. I've learned so much about the capacity of work I can handle and have managed to have some fun along the way, which made managing the workload a lot easier. I owe the fun part to the friends I've made within the Department of Construction Management. I would've been lost without them; literally, lost — and bored — a lot, so I'm really grateful to them and grateful that I've had the opportunity to spend the last year with a great group of people.”

When not at school, work or doing homework, Maria’s favorite thing to do is spend time with her 4-year-old daughter, Julia.

“I have an unbelievable amount of support from my family and friends,” Maria says. “This would have been significantly more difficult without them. My daughter has also been a constant reminder of why I wanted this so bad for myself and us, and that's what has helped me stay focused and driven.”

As she wraps up her whirlwind year at NKU, Maria is certain she’ll remember the great number of people who helped her achieve her dreams.

“I have had the opportunity to meet some really great people at NKU and I think that's really what has made this experience a great one for me,” Maria says. “The construction management faculty and students have shaped my experience here and I'm glad that I was able to share this experience with them.”