15:03 PM

Servant Leader Shenel Rimando ’15 Leaning into her BOLD UST Skills

Shenel Rimando '15, President of National Association of Women in Construction, San Antonio ChapterShenel Rimando ’15 says she utilized be-your-bold-self skills gained at the University of St. Thomas-Houston to earn a phenomenal leadership role in a short amount of time. As a result, she has been officially inducted as President of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) San Antonio Chapter. Only 11% of people in the construction industry are women, making Rimando’s accomplishments even more impressive. 

Crossing from Hospitality to Construction

With her BBA in Finance and Marketing, Rimando began her career in the Houston retail and hospitality arenas. Wanting more consistency and regular hours, she placed her name on a job listing at UST and was contacted by a hiring manager in construction.

She said, “I knew nothing about the construction industry, but I had the willingness to learn. So, I moved to San Antonio, where I went from knowing nothing to being the one to train inside and outside sales reps.”

After putting in the work, she became sales coordinator and plateaued. Her eyes were on becoming a project manager, so she went to work for a nationwide commercial sign company, Chandler Signs.

“I recently completed a year-long project in New Mexico,” she smiled.

From Cold Chicago to Hot Houston

After immigrating with her family from the Philippines, Rimando grew up in Chicago. Bitterly cold winters drove her to Houston and UST. 

“The only way my parents would let me move to Texas was for a Catholic university,” she said. “A friend recommended UST, so my parents drove me there, and I never moved back.”

At St. Thomas, everything about being bold resonated with her, starting with being a bold servant leader.

Rimando explained, “UST is one of the few Catholic universities that truly aligns with Catholic values. In every class, the professor connected values to service. I saw it on campus, and I think that’s why I’m a servant leader now.”

Finding a Community for Servant Leadership

When her beloved sister died of cancer, Rimando’s mentor suggested she join NAWIC to be part of a supportive community. She quickly began volunteering for professional education and outreach to help people get careers in the construction industry. In her second year, she advanced onto the board of directors.

“I used the marketing knowledge I received from UST to increase NAWIC’s social media marketing so much that I won a regional award for it,” she added.

In her third year, Rimando became vice president. Then, when the president stepped down during the pandemic, Rimando officially accepted the highest leadership role.

“We had 80 members from every generation,” she said. “My challenge was to try to get everyone on the same page, find common ground. I had to navigate everyone’s emotional intelligence, encourage all to be our bold selves and still find common ground and move forward.”

At the same time, Rimando drew on her knowledge of finance to stretch a very tight budget.

Being Part of History

Careerwise, she aims to remain in construction and be a senior project manager in the next five years. As a servant leader, her goal is to one day be the national president of NAWIC.

“Nationally, we have 5,000 members and are affiliated with organizations worldwide. To be part of an international effort to open doors for women and build needed projects is history-making. I want to be part of that history.”