Samson Usilo: Working Hard On and Off the Court


When Samson Usilo arrived at Manhattan College, he knew he wanted to pursue engineering, but he was unsure of which discipline to choose. Now in his last year, Usilo is set to graduate with a bachelor’s of science in civil engineering.

Growing up, Usilo always had an interest in the way things could come together. And like many engineers, he spent some of his youth taking things apart and putting them back together. However, Usilo’s passion for learning is matched with his love and passion for playing basketball.

Samson Usilo, a civil engineering major, was recently inducted into Chi Epsilon, the highest honor for civil engineering students at Manhattan College. GOJASPERS / COURTESY

Usilo, also a member of the men’s basketball team, has had the opportunity to live out both of his dreams while at Manhattan College. The first of these being to play college basketball and the second to graduate with an engineering degree.

Back in October, when the academic year was off to a fresh start, Usilo received the news that he was being inducted into Chi Epsilon, the national honor society for civil engineering. According to the Manhattan College website, Chi Epsilon was originally founded in 1922 at the University of Illinois and Manhattan College has had a chapter since 1949.

The distinction of being a member of Chi Epsilon is given to civil engineering students in their junior or senior year who exemplify the four traits of the successful engineer. These four traits are scholarship, character, practicality and sociability.

Moujalli Hourani, Ph.D and the Director of the Civil Engineering & Construction Management Graduate Programs is one of the professors at MC that has had the chance to teach and interact with Usilo throughout his years as an undergraduate student.

“To be a member of Chi Epsilon, it is the highest honor which any student in any college can achieve studying civil engineering … For Samson to be inducted into Chi Epsilon, it is something special,” said Hourani.

The achievement, which is no small feat, required Usilo to be in the top one-third of his civil engineering class.

Throughout his years as an undergraduate, Usilo’s favorite classes in civil engineering included Structural Analysis I, II and III. The three courses build on knowledge from the previous class and require the student to fully understand what is being taught in the classroom so that they can apply it to structural systems such as a column, wall, building or bridge.

Learning how to tackle these civil engineering problems is one of Usilo’s favorite things about the classes. “[It’s the] way you have to think about the problem and how you think you know what approach to take, [but instead] you need to take a different way,” said Usilo.

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Usilo at the Chi Epsilon Induction ceremony on Oct. 26, 2018. SAMSON USILO / COURTESY

Yet scholarship is not the only quality that makes Usilo the ideal candidate for the society. In addition to being an academic star, Usilo also shows great character.

According to a previous Quadrangle article titled, “Usilo Completes Comeback” men’s basketball head coach Steve Masiello said, “[Usilo]’s ambition, whether it’s in engineering, or communications, or the way he ties his shoes … I just think it’s a way for him, a lifestyle for him. It’s very disciplined and very impressive.”

Hourani, also shares similar sentiments about Usilo saying, “Samson is an excellent student, who happens to be a great human being. Everything he does, he does with respect to himself, to his classmates, and to this college, and you cannot ask anything else from any student.”

When Usilo was first informed about the achievement, he was speechless. At the time, he did not know the full extent to what he had accomplished until people told him, “Sammy that is great, you should really be proud,” said Usilo.

Some of his teammates were the first people Usilo told after receiving the news. In fact, after he was inducted into the 69th class of Chi Epsilon, Usilo returned diligently to MC to be with his teammates in preparation for a basketball scrimmage the following day. He states that they, along with all his coaches were very proud and happy for him.

Similarly, his family was also very proud and told him they knew he was capable of accomplishing great things because he always worked hard. For Usilo, this response was priceless, because it came from the people he cared most about.

Usilo still has a few months before graduation, but his hard work and effort continue.

“My mindset is something that is always pushing me to do what I’m doing. Also, I picture it happening, because if I don’t, it’s not going to happen. Right from when I was a freshman, I saw myself being a civil engineer and that was something that I had to work towards to actually get [because it is] what I wanted,” said Usilo.

After graduation in May, Usilo plans to pursue a masters degree in civil engineering at MC based on his love for structures and design.

“I am so happy that Samson decided to continue his education and to do his masters at Manhattan College and we will be honored to have him here,” said Hourani.