Being a Golden Bear is a family affair
Christy Bragg came to WVU Tech as a nontraditional student. The Cowen, West Virginia native spent 17 years in the healthcare industry as a positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) technologist before deciding to go back to school in 2010.
“When we had breakdowns on the equipment, we would call an engineer who would walk us through troubleshooting and help us get it back up and running. I thought what they did was so cool and could be something I wanted to do, so that is how I decided to go back to school to be in electrical engineering,” Bragg said.
She explained that while she had technical certificates that allowed her to work in the healthcare field, she had no college credits and had to start from scratch to begin her new career. She had a job, two young boys, and needed to take classes somewhere close to home. Tech was a perfect fit for her degree and proximity to home. She graduated in 2013. By December of 2013, she had secured a job with Appalachian Electrical Power. In June[JW1] 2021, Bragg was promoted to Project Design Supervisor and currently supervises engineers in the Beckley, Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling areas.
One of her sons, Levi Messer, became a Tech alumnus in 2019, also graduating with an electrical engineering degree. He interned in the engineering field before he decided to become a teacher. He now teaches high school at Mount Hope Christian Academy. He said he is still interested in electrical engineering but feels his engineering background has helped him prepare for his career as a teacher.
“I think Tech prepared me for my career in teaching through learning how to teach by watching my professors. I try to prepare my high school students, especially my juniors and seniors, for college-level classes. By integrating some of the principles and techniques that I saw my college professors do, I try to set them up for success,” he said.
Messer said he knew he wanted to teach during his junior year of college but felt conflicted and wasn’t sure if he should switch majors or not.
With encouragement from his mom, Messer decided to stay in the engineering program and use that knowledge in the classroom. Bragg reminded Messer one of his best teachers in high school was also an engineer. This teacher, Messer explained, was one of the reasons he wanted to go into engineering. Messer said he stayed in the engineering program to have the background to prepare him to teach math but could still go into the engineering industry if he wanted.
Now, Messer gets to help promote Tech to his high school students.
“It was pretty cool to bring my students back to campus and show them where I would study and talk to them about different classes I’ve taken,” he said.
Though he doesn’t work in the engineering industry, he and his mom share a unique bond from graduating in the same degree program.
“We even had some of the same professors,” Bragg said. “We both had Dr. [Stephen] Goodman and Dr. [Asadollah] Davari.”
Bragg noted she took her sons to one of Dr. Davari’s classes when she was a student.
“When Levi came to school here, he also had a class with Dr. Davari, so it was neat to be able to see him and have that connection with Levi and Dr. Davari,” she said.
Since graduating, Bragg and Messer have both been active alumni. Adding another family connection, Levi’s wife, Laura, is the coordinator for service and outreach. Levi has partnered with Tech through his church and school to do outreach programs, including alternative spring break and Martin Luther King Day of Service with his students.
Bragg currently serves on the advisory board of the electrical engineering department. She is actively working with Dr. [Kenan] Hatipoglu to create a better relationship between industry and Tech to better prepare students even more for the workforce.