Growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, I saw budding roadway issues and my wheels were constantly turning towards how to develop creative solutions. When I experienced roadways that didn’t produce effective results, it made me want to fix it. This is how I commenced roadway engineering and I’ve never left.
I started in a “less-glamorous” area of engineering, creating solutions for stormwater management. Stormwater problems can prove to be the most devastating to the long-term viability of any roadway, thus this initial focus in my career drastically improved my skills towards creating effective roadway designs.
Working with Native American tribes across the country has given me the opportunity to see, firsthand, the richness of their culture and intricacy of their values and traditions. My ability to witness Native American communities’ roadway issues has ignited my passion to cultivate results that improve the lives of the community members. With many Tribes/Nations, funding is always tight. Therefore, I am constantly working towards developing economical project plans, while also helping them seek additional infrastructure capital. There is no greater satisfaction than when I travel to one of the Native American communities I have served and see the look on their membership’s faces when a long-term problem has finally been solved for them.
From my experience, engineering isn’t just math and following specific standards/guidelines. Engineering involves not only producing thorough and unique designs, but also serving your client’s best interest through your skills and your work. One of my favorite parts of my job is developing relationships with clients and ensuring that the entire process is efficient and enjoyable.
Almost 25 years later I still feel the same excitement when a project is completed and a roadway puzzle is solved. I hope to teach my three daughters to pursue a career they love and to find accomplishment through improving the lives of others.
That said, I enjoy my job most when people ultimately end up in a better situation. I once assisted a young single mother transition from a dilapidated rental home to a replacement home that she was able to own instead renting. Since she did not drive and had a limited education, I drove her to weekly first time homebuyer classes and worked with her and the lender to ensure that she understood the financing and home buying process. After the acquisition and relocation process was complete, she had a nicer and safer home for her six year old child. What’s more, her monthly mortgage payment ended up being less than her previous monthly rent.
I don’t consider what I did to be beyond what is required of the job. When right of way agents are at their best, we understand the stressfulness of life changing events that often happen on highways projects. While we can’t prevent moving from being near the top of the list (it remains ahead of job loss and major illness in stressfulness), we can treat people well as they move forward. In so doing, we also help important highway projects move forward.