Most students aim to graduate and make a difference in the world, but for some, staying in their state to help local communities is a top priority. For Fairmont State graduate and Shinnston native, Shae Strait, serving West Virginia remains his primary goal.
Strait graduated from Fairmont State with a bachelor’s degree in Architecture in 2014 and continued his education at Fairmont State, graduating with a master’s degree in Architecture in 2016. While working toward his degrees, he served as a civil engineer in the West Virginia Army National Guard and helped to build roads, bridges and other types of civil infrastructures throughout the state.
Straight was employed by the Mills and Thrasher groups while working toward his master’s. Upon completion of his degree in 2016, Strait worked in Southwestern Pennsylvania as a freelance architect working on projects totaling in several millions of dollars.
Strait credits the opportunity to work on the redevelopment of existing buildings to Fairmont State. Some of those redevelopment projects included renovating abandoned buildings and transforming them into vibrant commercial and residential spaces.
In late 2016 Straight returned to his home state, aiming to keep his original goal on track and make an impact locally. He began working for the WVU Research Corporation as a project manager and redevelopment specialist for WV cities. His job duties consisting of working directly with communities and writing redevelopment plans, while still operating as an architect advising on projects and providing technical assistance. During his time working as a specialist and project manager, dozens of buildings in the state were restored into productive reuse. He later received the opportunity to lead the BAD Buildings project where he worked with more than 30 different cities over a 2-year period. During that same time, he began serving as a technical advisor, and is currently a steering committee member for the Abandoned Properties Coalition.
In 2018, Strait extended his career and accepted an opportunity as a visiting assistant professor at the Davis School of Design at West Virginia University where he taught Interior Design Studio for one semester. Later in the year, he became the planner for the city of Huntington where he now resides.
His primary job function is to administer the zoning ordinance for the city. In addition to his expansive job duties, he also leads special projects, including roadway redesign, redevelopment, implementing a comprehensive plan for the city, and he has spent most of his time focused on rewriting and amending the zoning ordinance to become a hybrid zoning code, a merging of traditional zoning and form zoning.
Strait currently serves as the Secretary Treasure for the WV American Planner’s Association and hopes to grow the professional planning community in this role. An architectural degree provides several career opportunities, and Strait has continued to soar and rise above any challenges presented. The knowledge and opportunities provided to Strait began during the first steps taken in earning his degree at Fairmont State.
“I am proud to say that Fairmont State’s program and curriculum is well above average,” Strait said. “I think it’s an absolutely excellent school with excellent academic programs, and for anybody who has the motivation to succeed, you will do that with your education from Fairmont State, I honestly believe that. I owe everything to the faculty and teaching staff at Fairmont State, especially Phillip, Kirk and Bob.”