PITTSBURG, KS.--- After changing her major multiple times, Pittsburg State University senior, Susan Martin, met a professor who introduced her to a career in construction.
"To be able to get my education, and have a mentor, and achieve what I want to do rather than just working at something that's machine money. You know, I'm going to get a job that I like, and I love," said Susan Martin, PSU Senior Construction Management Major.
The PSU professor that Susan owes her interest in construction to, is Jenny Mccool-O'Dell. Without question, Susan says O'Dell has inspired her to not only enjoy the construction field, but has showed her how to be a leader, and how the industry is more than just a hammer and nails.
"The thing of it with Jenny, she's not you know, everybody talks about networking. Well, she's not just a network connection, she is a connection. She's, you know, I plan on keeping in contact with her no matter where I go," said Martin.
O'Dell's hard work as a construction professor at PSU has inspired more than just her students. That's why she's receiving the 2014 Future Leader of the Year Award from the Southeast Kansas National Association of Women in Construction, or NAWIC.
"I am extremely proud and honored to be selected for this award. Being nominated and selected was a complete surprise," said Jenny McCool-O'Dell, PSU Construction Professor.
This isn't the first award O'Dell has won during her 15 years working in construction. She says the recognition is especially meaningful since she was nominated by her peers and students.
"I would encourage other women in and around construction think about participating in the National Association of Women in Construction. And you can work on your leadership skills, and continued education and then network with other women just like me," said O'Dell.
RFB Construction Owner Debbie Beachner is a fellow member of NAWIC with O'Dell. Beachner says she recommended O'Dell for the award because she goes above and beyond her work in construction. The two say women coming together with the same interest, supporting each other is extremely powerful.
"Women are very good about helping each other anyway, in general. So, this group makes it even more powerful," said Debbie Beachner, RFB Construction Owner.
O'Dell will receive her award at the NAWIC annual meeting and education conference in Indianapolis this September. Before then, local women in the construction industry have a chance to meet other women in the business. The National Association of Women in Construction will hold a pool side social event on Monday, July 14th at 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Downstream Casino.