Student Leader Charts His Own Course

Concrete Canoe competitor finds value in work-life balance
Sean with the concrete canoe

Roos don’t just dream, they do. Our students turn ideas into action every day. Get to know our people, and you’ll know what UMKC is all about.

Sean Purdue
Anticipated Graduation Year: December 2023
UMKC degree program: Civil Engineering, minor in history
Hometown: Liberty, Missouri


Looking to study civil engineering close to home, Sean Purdue chose UMKC for a balance of academic and student life opportunities. He’s a student ambassador of the Honors Program, the president of the UMKC chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers and competes on the school’s Concrete Canoe team.

Sean Purdue Headshot.jpg

Why did you choose your field of study?

I chose civil engineering because it is a very broad field, and it gives me a lot of options for when I decide what I want to do as a career. My grandfather was a civil engineer, so that also inspired me. The history minor is just because I love history.

How has your college program inspired you?

I’ve definitely been inspired by learning about how much the world revolves around civil engineering. Water, transportation, buildings, we play a part in everything. It’s also amazing how much good engineering can improve the world.

Who do you admire most at UMKC and why?

My friend Brett Keegan, who is also a civil engineering student. He commutes to campus from St. Joseph (about an hour one way) and has a young child, but he still finds time to help out with Concrete Canoe and to just be a great friend. I probably could not do what he does, and I find it very admirable.

Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?

I’ve learned that I want a life that is centered on family and activities that interest me outside of work. Still trying to figure out how to balance everything.  I’ve also learned a ton about my leadership style and how I react to stress.

What do you hope to take from your experiences at UMKC into your professional career?

Knowledge on how to manage teams and people. Also that information about my own nature (see the previous question) will be pretty important to not burn out. I also want to always remember those that helped me throughout my college career and try my best to be similarly helpful wherever I go.

dramatic portrait of Sean in the concrete canoe

What are you most proud of during your time at UMKC?

Making a concrete canoe is certainly up there. It’s not the prettiest or the lightest or the strongest, but it is a canoe and it is made of concrete. I am also happy that I know a lot of the people in my classes. I think it’s very easy to just go to class and leave without making connections, but I’m proud of the connections I’ve made.

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