Accepting change is one of the greatest lessons that civil engineering graduate Eman Woods learned during his time at Georgia Southern University, and it is something he will carry with him as he begins to navigate his future.
As a child, Woods dreamed that he would become a veterinarian. That changed when he discovered that, though he loved learning about animals, he was not a fan of the medical side of the job. In searching for a new dream, his family suggested that he try engineering.
“My parents were like ‘You have a mathematical mind. You should be an engineer,’” Woods said. “So that’s where I went. I wasn’t sure what branch of engineering I wanted to study, so I took an online quiz and civil engineering just seemed to click. I definitely have an aptitude for it, and I do have a future in the industry.”
As he began his studies, Woods’ expectations of a career in engineering changed.
“I initially thought it was just being able to do math, but it’s a lot more than that,” Woods said. “It’s weird because the field really has three major components. The first two are being able to do the work mathematically and being able to work with people in a business setting. Then there’s a written portion where you have to be able to understand what you’re doing at a level where you are able to communicate it to other people in a way that they can understand it too.”
He was able to work on these additional skills with the help of his fellow fraternity members. Raised in a military family, Woods’ childhood involved frequent moves. However, in high school, he discovered a love for music and it was this passion that led him to a new home at Georgia Southern.
“I was part of two fraternities, Kappa Kappa Psi, a national honorary band service fraternity, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia,” Woods said. “It was a weird transition going from one to another or doing both at the same time but, after finding a balance, it was like joining one giant family. The people in these organizations will sacrifice what they can to help and will stick their necks out for you, so it’s closer than a friend group. It’s a family.”
His experience with this musical family led to many memorable moments during his college career, his favorite of which he experienced with the Southern Pride Marching Band during his freshman year in 2015.
“By far my favorite moment was the GoDaddy Bowl game we won in 2015,” Woods said. “It felt straight out of the movies. It was such a magical event. They flew the band out there and nobody thought our football team had it in us, but then we won. I remember thinking that this is it, this is what college is like. I loved it.”
Lasting seven years, Woods’ undergraduate experience was longer than anticipated. Over that time he worked multiple part-time jobs to help fund his education.
“It was difficult,” Woods said. “When it came to a priority list it was always academics and jobs. My schedule was full with meetings, work and class. I always had something going on, so there was never just a moment to breathe. It was a struggle, but I accepted that we don’t have to finish in the exact four years. Life happens. The important thing is that you stick with it and you keep pushing.”
Woods crossed the stage earning his bachelor’s degree at Allen E. Paulson Stadium on May 11, after which his life changed again as he plans to move away from Georgia and search for a job in the engineering field.
“I’ve been on the East Coast of the United States most of my life,” Woods said. “I would like to see what it’s like on the other side of the country. Texas, California, even traveling outside the U.S. I would love to see Paris or Spain and just see how the world is. Things change more quickly than we give them credit for. Anything that can, will change and you just have to be ready to adapt on the fly. That’s the one big thing I learned was to always be ready for what comes next.”