the From Letters Latina Dr. Martinez-Guerra briefing the Sargeant Major of the U.S. Army, Daniel Dailey, 2018.
Research Environmental Engineer at the U.S. Army
Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC)
By IEdith Martinez-Guerra
emigrated from El Salvador to the United
inspired me to pursue a career where I could help
States in 2004 when I was a sophomore in
to improve water quality for people, which is what
high school. My biggest struggle was the
I do at ERDC.
language. I am an extrovert, and the inability to
While at ERDC I have had many opportunities
communicate in English was very difficult. I knew
to learn and grow personally and professionally.
I wanted to be a civil engineer ever since I was
I have been given the opportunity to help others
kid (because my 2nd grade teacher told me I
in need, such as the case of my deployment to
would be one), but I did not know how to do it
Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. I had the
because I did not know all the steps I had to
pleasure of deploying for two months. During my
follow to attend college. I heard my classmates
deployment, I supported the Blue Roof Mission
talking about the ACT, so I took it. My GPA was
working on the Field Management System (FMS)
great and my ACT was higher than average (not
and updating the Mobile Information Collection
too bad for a non-English speaker!), but I did not
Application (MICA) on the devices used in the
really know what to do with that.
field. Also at ERDC, I had the opportunity to
I applied to several universities that came to
travel along with the U.S. Southern Command
visit our high school, and I was admitted, but
(SOUTHCOM) to Peru and Trinidad and Tobago to
when I would check their websites, I thought I
brief on environmental waste management after
would never be able to afford school. I did not
Dr. Martinez-Guerra briefing at a
know much about all the scholarship programs.
SOUTHCOM meeting in Lima, Peru,
I am enjoying my job at ERDC, I have met
I heard of one from a local community college,
very intelligent people, and I try to learn as much
so I took it and attended there my first year.
as I can from them. I have been part of important
After that, I took student loans (I will be
Upon the completion of my Ph.D. in 2016, I
projects regarding energy, water, and wastewater
paying for a while), worked almost full-time, and
joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. I work
treatment. I have taken advantage of the leadership
completed my bachelors in Civil Engineering from
as a Research Environmental Engineer at the U.S.
programs offered, as well as the mentoring
Arkansas State University. I heard about graduate
Army Engineer Research and Development
program. Actually, I do not think I would have
school, and I promised myself that I would study
Center (ERDC). I have wanted to work there since
made it this far if it was not for all the mentors I
until I get the highest degree that one can get.
I first heard of it. I grew up in a small village
have had throughout my life. LS
Therefore, I completed my Masters and my Ph.D.
where drinking water has to be carried for long
in Civil and Environmental Engineering from
distances and most of the domestic chores get
Want to comment or have any questions on
Mississippi State University.
done with collected rain water. This situation
this article? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
36 www.latinastyle.com LATINAStyle Vol. 25, No. 1, 2019