Kennesaw State senior’s no-quit attitude brings personal and professional success

KENNESAW, Ga. | Dec 12, 2022

You can learn a lot about Kennesaw State senior Allison Shaw by looking at her graduation regalia. The blue and white cord around her shoulders represents her time as president of KSU’s Institute of Transportation Engineers, the design on top of her mortarboard is a nod to her favorite television show “Friends,” and next to her tassel is a photo of her dad.

Allison Shaw

Shaw, a soon-to-be graduate in civil engineering in the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology (SPCEET), completed five internships throughout her college career and will be working full-time with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) in 2023. Shaw’s time as a student has been marked with several successes and celebrations, but in June, her world stopped when her father unexpectedly passed away. 

“My father was the best man I knew and was always there to lend a helping hand,” Shaw said. “Returning to school after he passed was difficult, but I took advantage of KSU’s resources, focused on my schoolwork, and told myself, ‘I can’t quit now.’ I knew he would want me to persevere.”

She received support from her professors and used Kennesaw State’s Counseling and Psychological Services, a function of the Division of Student Affairs, to help her cope with such a big loss in her life. She kept pushing through, and in her final semester, Shaw accepted a full-time job, prepared for final exams, and presented a capstone project at SPCEET’s Senior Design Expo.

“This is what I’ve always wanted to do,” Shaw said about graduating with a civil engineering degree. “I learned about engineering in high school and for one assignment, we had to pick a discipline and present it to the class. I picked civil engineering and the more I researched it, the more I enjoyed it. The rest is history!”

Shaw, who is from Buford, Georgia, said she chose Kennesaw State because she was impressed by the hands-on experiences students receive in the classroom and faculty members who have worked in engineering jobs outside of academia. 


“I found my place at Kennesaw State and made connections that helped me professionally and personally,” Shaw said. As president of Kennesaw State’s chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), she organized and attended meetings around the state and had the opportunity to travel to an out-of-state leadership conference. 

“I really enjoyed the networking ITE provided,” Shaw said. “As president, it was exciting to tell other students what ITE can do for them and help them make those connections, which have led to jobs and internships.”

At Commencement in December, she will proudly wear her Kennesaw State gown with the ITE cord around her shoulders, and she will hold the charm with her dad’s photo as she ceremoniously turns her tassel from right to left.

After receiving her diploma, Shaw will work with GDOT’s SigOps program which focuses on optimization of traffic signals across the state. Her team will place devices at different intersections that provide live data to improve signal functioning. 

“I’ve held two internships with GDOT, and I cannot wait to continue working with them,” Shaw said. “The friends and mentors I’ve met at Kennesaw State have been incredible influences on my journey, and I’m grateful to be a Forever Owl.”

Kennesaw State’s Fall Commencement ceremonies are scheduled Dec. 13, 14 and 15.

–  Abbey O’Brien Barrows
Photos by Darnell Wilburn

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 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