Stephen Gacioch, UMassD College of Engineering student
Stephen Gacioch is a civil engineering major at UMass Dartmouth's College of Engineering. (Photographer: Karl Dominey)
Feature Stories 2021: Stephen Gacioch '21: Defining a career path
Stephen Gacioch '21: Defining a career path

Stephen, a civil engineering major and captain of the UMassD football team, talks about the cohesive college community, developing his leadership skills, & landing the internship that helped him define his career path.

A cohesive community

“The culture of the Civil Engineering Department as a whole makes for an experience that is one of a kind. The students and faculty all work closely together and for personal relationships that all for a better educational experience. No matter where I am on campus, if I see one of my professors, they know who I am and are willing to help with whatever they can.”

Quarterback & captain of the football team

“Outside of engineering, I spend a lot of my time at football. The entire athletic department is full of people who I’ve grown to know and work with and the relationships I’ve built there will last a lifetime. As a quarterback, I was put into a leadership role very early in my collegiate career. Being able to lead a team and have others believe in you and follow you is not always the easiest thing. But football has helped me develop my leadership skills more than anything ever has.

I’ve learned over the past four years that there are different ways of being a leader and everyone reacts to different types of leadership. In the past, I always lead by example but after learning that will only attract a certain number of others, I learned to become more of a vocal leader. A vocal leader does not always have to be the main voice of reason either. I have learned that growing more personal relationships with teammates, will help with your vocal leadership. The ability to speak to your peers and know who they are and what they came from allows you to lead in a more productive way.

Being voted a captain as a junior is one of my most meaningful honors I have ever been given. It means more than player of the year or all-conference because the relationships I build with my teammates are ultimately what matter and those relationships are what I can use to help make the team better every day.”

Lead student ambassador

“I work for the Admissions Office to help plan and execute events on campus, like Accepted Students’ Days, campus tours, and many others. This job requires me to know a lot about the university and to show prospective students why UMassD is such a great place to be. At first, it was a little challenging. Not everyone is comfortable speaking to large groups but it has helped me develop that skill tremendously.”

RIDOT internship

“I worked at the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) as a project management intern in the summer of 2019. I worked with Excel to create a database for transmittals to other departments and contractors. I also reviewed traffic plans, contract documents, documents of quantities, and engineers' estimates. Finally, I was tasked with updating the Project Management Portal used for all projects. I learned all the behind-the-scenes aspects of project management, along with the reading of plans and understanding how all the contract documents come together on the plans. This internship is what influenced me to pursue a future in transportation engineering and has opened the doors to many other opportunities. I was able to use my experience at RIDOT and network myself through the connections I made.”