Built From Adversity

MARIETTA, Ga. | Feb 19, 2020

Student overcomes hurdles en route to national award

Nearly three years ago, Curt Byrd heard a knock on his apartment door. It was his neighbor warning him that the building was on fire and urging him to evacuate.

Just a year into his academic career at Kennesaw State University, he lost all of his personal belongings in the fire, requiring him to start anew. In hindsight, he said, the loss is ultimately what galvanized his pursuit of becoming a homebuilder.

“It sounds funny, but it didn’t take long for me to realize everything would be OK,” said Byrd, who studies construction management in Kennesaw State’s College of Architecture and Construction Management. “I still had a very strong support system, but I realized others weren’t as lucky. I felt that I could use my skills to help others who had nowhere else to turn.”

Curt Byrd

Recently, Byrd was one of just a handful of students nationwide to earn the Outstanding Student Award from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The prestigious award recognizes student members of NAHB based on their academic standing, involvement with their student chapter and interest in pursuing residential building. Currently serving as president of KSU’s student chapter, Byrd also works as a part-time assistant project manager at Mitchell Metals in Smyrna and has been active in numerous charitable efforts for HomeAid Atlanta and other organizations throughout the metro Atlanta area.

Though he originally considered studying architecture, Byrd said his family history in homebuilding made construction management a more natural fit.

“It was honestly something that I have been dreaming about since I was a teenager,” he said. “In a sense, you are afforded the chance to give someone a new life. It’s also nice to build for someone who doesn’t have a home, whether they are buying for the first time or receiving it through charity, and I wanted to be involved in that process.”

After earning his degree in May, Byrd intends to begin his career as a project manager for a homebuilder. Khalid Siddiqi, chair of the Department of Construction Management, said Byrd’s ability to overcome adversity is just another attribute to his already broad skillset.

“In demonstrating his leadership in the NAHB student chapter and through his dedication to applying his knowledge in impactful extracurricular activities, Curt has proven to be a model student,” Siddiqi said. “The connections he has made across the industry will no doubt carry him far in his future career, and I very much look forward to celebrating his success.”

– Travis Highfield

Photos by Jason Getz

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.