How The AGC Houston Scholarship Has Helped To Change Lives

Since its inception, the Patrick J. Kiley Excellence in Leadership Scholarship has helped students fulfill their financial needs. For many applicants, it has been life-changing, especially for those who come from economically challenged families, or who work full-time. This past spring marked the 23rd year in which AGC Houston conferred 168 scholarships, amounting to a total of $511,500.  Each April, AGC Houston celebrates the scholarship recipients, including students who have received an AGC of America scholarship. The ceremony draws AGC Houston members that support the scholarship through the Distinguished Speakers program, as well as department heads from University of Houston, Texas A & M University and Prairie View A & M University. 

“Since the launch of this scholarship program,” said Stan Marek, CEO, Marek Brothers Systems, Inc. and Patrick J. Kiley Excellence in Leadership Committee Chair, “these scholarships have provided a chance for AGC Houston to help students achieve their dreams, pursue their goals, and do something they might not otherwise have been able to do.” 

In 2015,  Brookstone, LP donated $37, 500 toward educational scholarships. “Our decision to make a significant contribution to the scholarship fund is because it helps to promote the education of desperately-needed future industry professionals,” stated Steve Dishman, President, Brookstone, LP. For Dishman, contributing to the scholarship is a way to “assure a sustainable construction workforce” pipeline and to honor “Pat Kiley – our greatest local industry example of skill, integrity and responsibility – which made the donation decision that much easier and more meaningful.” 

Perhaps another meaningful element to Brookstone’s donation is that one of the company’s employees, RuthAnn Ritchie-Kimbell, was a three-time scholarship recipient. A single parent, Ritchie-Kimbell began working as a project engineer for Brookstone, LP while attending night school at the University of Houston, studying Construction Science. Celebrating 10 years with Brookstone, LP this past April, the road to project manager has been circuitous. 

“Most of my classmates at UH were working in the field like me. I really fell into this business after my marriage ended,” she said. “I have always been intrigued by the construction business and knew that it was for me.” She jumped at the chance to interview for a position with Brookstone, LP as a project coordinator. “During my interview, I knew I landed in the right place. When I got the job, I loved going into the field and visiting jobsites. I like the fast-paced environment of this business and it brings new opportunities to learn.”

She also realized that her future could be much more enriched by pursuing a degree in construction management. When RuthAnn’s daughter graduated from high school and was applying for colleges, she decided that she, too, wanted a professional degree. “I was ready to move forward with higher education and wanted to be at a higher level at work. I spoke to Jeremy Stovall, Vice President at Brookstone, about my career path and he fully supported my new plans.

 “Working full time and taking nine hours a semester can be very stressful, and still manage to lead a normal life,” she said. “This scholarship provided me the financial means I needed to complete my studies. It truly eased my financial burdens.”

A two-time scholarship recipient, Dustin Murphy, Project Manager for Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing, was working for the company while pursuing his studies – first, at San Jacinto College and later, at University of Houston, Clear Lake, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance. “Receiving the Patrick J. Kiley Excellence in Leadership Scholarship in 2013 and 2014 really meant a great deal to me because I was getting the support from a well-recognized association within the construction industry to help me pursue a career within construction,” he stated.  

Murphy was encouraged to apply for the AGC Scholarship by fellow co-worker, Lyle Coston, who was also a past recipient of the Patrick J. Kiley Excellence in Leadership scholarship. “After San Jacinto College, I worked in the field full time for four-and-a-half years at Chamberlin. I became a project coordinator, which is when I realized that a finance degree would be a valuable. Because I had always been good at math, my parents encouraged me to pursue a financial degree. While working full time and going to school at night and on weekends, the scholarships helped to finance my tuition so that I could focus my full attention on completing the courses I was enrolled in.”

According to Murphy, his finance degree has paid off: “I manage multiple projects that range between $500,000 to several million dollars. I oversee the front-end submittals and the shop drawings that go out. I also do the cost tracking: managing the projects’ budgets and ordering materials. Having the support from AGC and knowing their commitment to helping and developing young leaders has shown me the importance of not only obtaining my education, but the importance of continuing to develop my skills and abilities and applying them towards pursuing my goals and making an impact within the construction industry,” he stated.

In the 11 and-a-half years that he has been with the company, Murphy has seen the construction evolve as technology has enabled the faster transfer of information. “Where we used to read shop drawings on jobsites, now, we have portable devices and can track in real time the progress. It’s an exciting career to be in and brings constant challenges,” he added. “I could not imagine being in any other industry. AGC Houston helped to making this a reality!”

At TDIndustries, Inc.,  both Crystal and Antonio Hernandez have experienced the joy of receiving a Patrick J. Kiley Excellence in Leadership Scholarship three times: in 2014, 2015, and 2017. “We have been so blessed to receive these scholarships and are so very thankful to have received them,” she stated.

“When my husband and I decided to go back to school, we came to the agreement that he would first to complete his degree, and I would start once he finished, due to the financial burden that comes with college.”  When each was awarded the first AGC Scholarship in 2014, it provided the couple with the opportunity to both attend school at the same time. The couple was raising a toddler – now seven years old – working and going to school.  “With the financial burden lifted from our shoulders, we were able to focus on pursuing a higher education and get closer to our goals,” she stated.

Crystal has been at TDIndustries for six years and is a Project Assistant in TDIndustries’ Special Projects group, while Antonio works in the company’s Facilities group as a Building Tech II/Safety Coordinator in the Houston Police Department headquarters downtown. 

“We are both beyond excited and so very thankful for the opportunities AGC has provided us to pursue our bachelor’s degrees. It is also setting a great example for our son. We cannot say it enough: Thank you! Thank you! Thank You!”

For more information on the AGC Houston Scholarship Program, click here