Alyssa Zayas makes her mark on downtown hotel project

For the city of Sacramento, the recent grand opening of the Sawyer Hotel marked a major milestone in the ongoing transformation of downtown. For Sacramento State alumna Alyssa Zayas ’14 (Construction Management), it closed the door on an exciting time in her young but already impressive career.

Zayas, a senior project engineer for Sawyer general contractor Swinerton Builders, has spent nearly two years working on the project, where she says her day-to-day responsibilities “ranged from managing underground waterproofing to managing the exterior skin subcontractors.”

“The majority of my time was spent problem solving design and constructability issues in the field, and managing the contracts and money associated with solving those issues,” she adds.

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Alyssa Zayas served as a senior project manager for the Sawyer Hotel, seen at right in downtown Sacramento. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Swinerton offered Zayas an internship in 2012, when she still was a Sacramento State student, to work on the remodel of Jackson Rancheria Casino & Hotel. When the two-year internship was up, the company hired her full time, and her other projects have included the Sutter County Superior Courthouse and the John Muir Health Ambulatory Care Center in Walnut Creek. Working on the Sawyer, however, was different.

“What made this project just a little sweeter for me was the fact that I was born and raised in Sacramento and plan to raise my own family here as well,” Zayas says. “The fact that I got to be a part of bringing such a high-profile project to reality, and will get to watch the community enjoy it for many years to come, gives me so much pride.”

The project’s compressed schedule proved challenging, she says, with long days required to complete the hotel on time. “It took a toll on us all, but was worth it in the end when we were seeing, literally, the fruits of our labor come to life right before our eyes.”

For Zayas, construction is a family tradition. In a 2015 Made at Sac State feature, she discussed growing up around the excavation company founded by her grandfather and passed on to her uncle and father, as well as the challenges of being a woman in an industry that is more than 90 percent male.

The Construction Management program at Sac State is one of the University’s strongest, boasting a 100 percent job placement rate and six first-place finishes in national competitions over the past five years. Zayas, who played a role in two of those national championship-winning teams, says going through the program gave her the work ethic and public speaking skills that are essential to being successful in her current role.

“The Sac State Construction Management program does a great job of exposing students to real-world situations and teaching the skills needed to succeed in this industry,” she says.

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