"Women are often misled in their perceptions of the construction industry, and this is a wonderful opportunity to make an impact," Clunn said.
The scholarship, awarded via the University of Houston Foundation, will benefit a female sophomore, junior, or senior who is majoring in construction management. Clunn's gift will provide immediate scholarship support ($2,500 a year for the next two years), as well as a permanent endowment to provide perpetual scholarships in this area.
Clunn had a unique entry into the industry during the late ‘80s. As a customer service agent for a local hotshot delivery company, she expedited a delivery for MC Distributors, an acoustical ceiling supply company in Austin, Texas. By mistake, the delivery was made to another company on Austin Street in Houston. Clunn persisted to resolve the issue, and the client MC Distributors was impressed and offered Clunn her first job in the industry. There, she met her husband, Gordon. They founded Clunn Acoustical Systems, a rapidly growing company specializing in acoustical contracting for the commercial construction industry; and Enviro-San, focusing on drywall and insulating contract work.
Even though the construction industry has reputation as a non-traditional, male-dominated industry, Clunn shared that women can be successful in this line of work.
"I had no formal background in construction, but I feel that this is my calling," Clunn says. "Our industry could prove intimidating and daunting without the education and knowledge of the opportunities available," she said. "Being well educated is vital to dealing with the challenges and proving yourself in a male-dominated work environment, but I have had excellent mentors which is very important."
"It is always challenging to find women with the right mix of talent in our industry. There are so many opportunities in the construction industry, and earning a degree exposes women to many opportunities that are often overlooked, such as project management and estimating," said Clunn.
Clunn's husband, Gordon, is Vice-President of the company, and her daughter and sons are deeply involved with responsibilities ranging from sales to estimating and accounts receivable.
Clunn said that she is grateful for the opportunity to mentor others in the industry, as she credits her success to several industry mentors including Lana Coble.
"When you are able to give back or mentor, pay it forward," Clunn advises. "The point is to reach out and help someone else," she said. "The support may not always be in the form of money. Mentoring and networking can lead to highly rewarding careers."
Individuals or organizations wishing to contribute to the Women in Construction Scholarship Endowment should contact Lisa Burns, Director of Advancement, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.