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Sarah Dearing ’08 is the vice president of Callan Marine, Ltd. | Image: Courtesy of Sarah Dearing

It was a weekend filled with the Aggie spirit that convinced Sarah Dearing ’08 to come to Texas A&M University to study ocean engineering – a final effort by her father to keep her closer to her Dallas home and attend a top-tier engineering program.

Though Dearing was never a big sports fan, she and her father decided to go to a football game together. They drove to College Station, purchased tickets the day of and happened to get first-row seats at the 50-yard line in the former student section.

And that’s when the magic happened.

“Just feeling the power of the student side and all the community and the want to fit in; it was just one of those moments,” Dearing said. “The whole Aggie spirit just hits you really hard, especially when we're right there in the front. I wanted to be part of it. This had to be my school.”

And though she originally planned to study civil engineering, Dearing found her home away from home in the Department of Ocean Engineering.

“Ocean engineering is the best-kept secret in the College of Engineering,” she said. “You get to develop a community of students and professors really quickly. And, while it sounds like a unique application, it’s actually super broad. You can do a lot of different things in industry that aren’t related to one another.”

Dearing continued, explaining that she enjoyed the extreme environment of the ocean and the dynamic challenges it posed. The broad applications of ocean engineering, as well as the variety of industries she could go into with her degree, greatly appealed to her.

Looking back, she believes it was the challenging curriculum combined with the mentorship she received from her professors that taught her to be more resilient and hardworking. This, she explained, attributed to her career successes.

Dearing is now the vice president of Callan Marine, Ltd., a Galveston-based dredging and marine construction company founded in 2009 providing critical dredging response along the Gulf Coast and beyond.

Dearing has worked in the dredging industry for 12 years, beginning her career as an intern and holding positions such as project engineer, engineering manager and estimating manager.

In her current role, she is responsible for Callan Marine’s pre-construction division, which includes the marketing, sales and estimating departments. She oversees the coordination and management of several fleet projects and nearly 200 employees.

“I set up the front end of the business and get the Operations Division ready to go to work,” Dearing said. “That means, instead of a contract, my team does the negotiation with the clients. We look for work, bid work, get them set up financially and make sure there is plan, so operations can just go and execute the plan.”

Dearing says that it is an exciting time for Callan Marine as they continue to expand the company.

“We have a lot of young people here at Callan Marine,” she said. “So, I enjoy leading them, building careers, establishing what the culture is like in our work environment. Everything's new. And because it's new, it's challenging. But it's also really fun.”

Along those same lines, she encourages all students to work hard, show up consistently and give one another respect.

“Other people have challenges that you may or may not know about, or may not agree with, but that are challenging for them,” she said. “There's no sacrifice in being a team player. I've seen people with good character traits get hired or have opportunities or promoted over people just with impressive resumes. I also believe it’s important to find a good mentor in your industry of choice and invest in them as a person. Nurture that relationship because that mentor is a person and they're investing in you and your time and your career building.”