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From a young age Kara Guthro knew she wanted to work in construction.

“I had Tonka trucks and a toy tool set when I was little, and I always wanted to help fix things around the house,” Guthro said.

After a decade working at Grunley Construction, an award-winning company headquartered just off Shady Grove Road in Rockville, the MC alumna is now the College’s construction management program coordinator.

Kara Guthro (Photo credit: Peter Lentini)

Guthro started college at Boston University, where she majored in communications. After her freshman year, she transferred to Montgomery College and graduated with a degree in construction management. She went on to get her bachelor’s from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in construction management technology.

Guthro said that MC had a big impact on her: “The most significant influence was from the professors in the construction management program, particularly Professor Mario Parcan.” Parcan encouraged her to join the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) Construction Management Competition team. That year, the four-person team of MC students entered ABC’s national competition as the only community college team to participate. Guthro was among five finalists, and the team won second place in the estimating category, followed by a grand championship win. “The experience confirmed for me that I was following the career path that I wanted,” she said.

I have been very fortunate in my life and in my career to have an outstanding family, classmates, teammates, coworkers, and mentors, I hope that I can inspire my students to do the same.

Professor Parcan also connected Guthro with a job opportunity at Grunley, where she then worked for 11 years. Lastly, he was the person who convinced her to join the MC faculty.

In 2020, Montgomery College was one of 26 schools competing—and the only participating two-year school—in a national construction management competition. Based on the proposal the students submitted in the spring semester, the judges selected them as one of nine finalist teams. As a finalist, the students gave a presentation on August 17 to a panel of judges from the industry. The MC team won first place in the Quality Control category.

Looking out of her office window, located in the Technical Center, Guthro sees Grunley signs on campus and is reminded of the company that gave her career a jump start. Grunley recently completed the Long Nguyen and Kimmy Duong Student Services Center on the Rockville Campus. The 127,000-square-foot building will house the campus-based Student Affairs Department, including Raptor Central, financial aid, counseling and advising, disability support services, records and registration, recruitment, Combat2College, student life, and the ACES program. Along with several collegewide functions, like the Scholarships and Grants Office, the Student Health and Wellness (SHaW) Center will also reside in the Student Services Center.

She believes that none of her successes are hers alone. “I have been very fortunate in my life and in my career to have an outstanding family, classmates, teammates, coworkers, and mentors,” she asserted. Each set high expectations for her and challenged her to keep learning and improving: “I hope that I can inspire my students to do the same.”

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