College of Technology
Kim Bruder ClarkeThe University of Houston was not Kim Bruder Clarke's first choice.
"My intent was to go to LSU," Clarke said. "But in order to live at home and save some money I attended UH instead, and decided not to leave."
That decision to attend the University of Houston was just the first in a chain of choices that Clarke did not see herself making in life that would eventually pull her out of her shell and shape her into the successful and outgoing woman she is today.
"In high school I was shy and introverted," Clarke said. "When I went to college, I decided I was going to change that."
At a university known for its commuters, Clarke made a choice to become actively involved.
"I decided that I wanted to have a college life," Clarke said. "And at UH, it's hard to do unless you belong to an organization."
Clarke eventually joined the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority. Throughout her time at UH, she held down a job, a full course load and aside from her sorority duties, she also took part in intramural sports.
"I worked 35 hours a week the whole time I was at UH and I went to night school," Clarke said. "I took my work vacation and did my sorority activities. I worked hard to participate."
Clarke's drive to be involved fueled her desire to find a way to make everything fit into her schedule.
"I just wanted it badly enough," Clarke said. "There were a lot of people at school that didn't know I worked. I had jobs that were flexible and a lot of retail work where I could shift my schedule around."
Those qualities of self-discipline and motivation have stayed with Clarke as she ventured beyond the UH campus and into the business world. She is currently the Senior Vice President of Administration and Chief People Officer for Key Energy Services in Houston.
As is the case with most UH students, it took Clarke longer than the traditional four years to graduate. During that time she met John, her husband at a Sigma Chi Fraternity party.
Clarke loved the nontraditional atmosphere at UH.
"I loved the fact that the teachers were in the business world," Clarke said. "That gave them a lot more credibility. They used real life examples and since I was already working, I recognized that."
Because of her experience as a student, Clarke had no problem stepping up as a hands-on alumna. Clarke is currently a member of the Dean's Advisory Board for the College of Technology.
"My education was excellent," Clarke said. "I thought the experience was incredibly uplifting. And I had a great time. We're football season ticket holders, we go to tailgates and we give to Cougar Pride. "
However, Clarke feels more UH graduates could be a little more involved.
"I'm a little disappointed," Clarke said. "There are an awful lot of people in Houston who don't do anything. If they want their university to be the best, they need to work at it. We don't carry the kind of tradition that we need to. There are lots of colleges in Texas where their alumni flock back at every turn and I don't feel like we have that kind of support."
In fall 2008, Clarke led the way as the first donor to the college's Emerging Technology Growth Fund. She says she got involved with the Growth Fund because of the unique opportunity it provided donors.
"I think part of our charter as board members is to help raise funds and to help people participate in terms of fundraising," Clarke said. "The fund allows people without the ability to donate a large sum of money all at once to get involved and build that over time. Most people think that giving means writing a check for $25,000 all at once. The fund allows donors to build that money over time into an endowment. It's a very unique mechanism."
After going from a shy girl to a successful, outgoing UH graduate, Clarke had a few words of advice for those just starting their college careers.
"Find an organization that you can join and participate in and get a good solid university style experience," Clarke said. "Use your time wisely -- do not just go to class and bury your head in a book and run to work. Find some ways to give back and participate. That's what makes it a rich experience."
Though the University of Houston may not have been Clarke's first choice, she admits that the UH has played a large role in her life.
"I've always been proud of UH," Clarke said. "It's given me a good life and provided me a good education. I give UH a lot of credit."
- Jasmine Harrison