Construction student inspired classmates to enter the field

Kylie Lundy, West Salem High School and Career Technical Education Center Class of 2022 (Courtesy/Kylie Lundy)

This article is part of a series of profiles of Class of 2022 graduates.

With one home built before graduation, Kylie Lundy had her pick of summer jobs.

The 18-year-old is graduating from West Salem High School and the district’s Career Technical Education Center – and following her parents’ footsteps into the construction industry.

“As soon as I set foot in there, I just felt at home,” Lundy said of the program at CTEC. “The environment was just so welcoming and I began to have aspirations to get into that field.”

Lundy said she found her first two years of high school “kind of boring” and was less interested in sitting in class all day, though she enjoyed some business classes involving hands-on work like running the student store.

She applied to the construction program and started her junior year.

Students in the program learn about everything from architecture to ordering materials, and put their skills to work building an actual home which is then sold on the open market.

The cost of the home covers materials, supervisors, the land and specialized licensed work like electrical and plumbing, which is left to contractors.

“It is fascinating to me how it can go from a patch of dirt to a structure that people can live in,” Lundy said.

Her teachers said Lundy quickly distinguished herself with her professionalism – always being the one in class to get up and greet visitors – and her attention to detail.

“She kind of took the leadership role on the job site of, ‘What do we need to get done today?’” said Alyssa Stone, the construction program instructional assistant.

This year, Lundy mentored first-year construction students, a job no one asked her to do, said Alesha Watts, the English teacher in the program.

“She really excelled during our home design competition,” Watts said, referring to the annual project where students design a home to be built the following year.

Though her design wasn’t selected, Lundy said working on a real home was a highlight of high school for her.

“Seeing a house that I had worked on a little bit last year and at the beginning of this year getting moved into and actually seeing a family living in the house was super cool,” she said.

The district construction program tends to be male-dominated, with about 30% female students. Some of those initially applied to CTEC hoping to get into another of their hands-on programs and were instead assigned to construction when others filled up.

Stone said that means there are often girls in the program who don’t necessarily want to go into the construction industry when they graduate. But Lundy’s influence and enthusiasm has spread among her classmates.

“I think all but one or two of this year’s group is going to go into construction, which is crazy,” Stone said. “One was gonna be a veterinarian. Now she’s going to be a plumber.”

Stone said Lundy also made trips across town from her west Salem home to socialize with friends in the construction program, despite driving a truck with terrible gas mileage. She joined the National Association of Women in Construction and made gift bags with roses for other girls in the program.

Lundy is working for Smallwood Builders, a general contracting firm, out of Alsea this summer, then starting a program in construction engineering management at Oregon State University in the fall.

She hopes one day to own her own general contracting business.

Lundy said reflecting back on high school, she’s proudest of “being a leader and paving my own path.”

“I think a lot of people, especially during high school, they like to kind of fit in with the group … and I felt like I never did that,” she said.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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