DeAndre Ross, an assistant project manager at Gafcon, Inc. in Los Angeles, is putting both his engineering training and his people skills to work every day on large building projects. DeAndre says, “I can discover a problem or challenge one day, and work with my team and know how to fix it the next day.” He enjoys the exposure to constant learning and the chance to work with a highly skilled team. DeAndre has been working toward this career since his sophomore year of high school when he transferred to North Technical High School in St. Louis County to take advantage of their career and technical offerings. He gained experience with drafting and building design at North Tech, and he decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in architectural and civil engineering at Missouri University of Science & Technology.
DeAndre learned about The Scholarship Foundation through his high school guidance counselor, who encouraged him to apply for an interest-free loan. DeAndre was selected, and he says that he is grateful for the opportunities the interest-free loan gave him. He reports that, even with the support of The Scholarship Foundation, finances were a challenge during college. He took a large number of challenging classes each semester, which prevented him from working, and he notes that his mother was not able to help him financially.
While in college, DeAndre thrived socially and enjoyed meeting new people; he still keeps in touch with many of them. College academics did not come as easily to him as he expected at first, and he acknowledges that he learned valuable lessons about asking for help and using all available resources before he found success academically. He interned at Hensel Phelps while in college and was hired by them in their San Diego office after his graduation in 2016.
Since graduating and entering repayment for his loan, DeAndre says that he appreciates the money he has saved on interest as well as the understanding he received from Foundation staff when he needed to set up a payment plan with a lower monthly payment. DeAndre repaid his interest-free loans in full in 2022. He says, “It felt so good—it was huge for me. Even though there was no interest accruing, it felt amazing to be in a position to pay them off.” He is looking forward to having extra money in his budget and plans to invest it.
In addition to his professional goals, DeAndre also has the personal goals of starting a family and expanding the time that he spends on his art doing illustration.