A native of the Philippines, Denisse Delos Santos’ route to becoming an engineer at Arizona-based SRP was a journey that began in her home country with a father who inspired her.
“I was fascinated by engineering work because my dad – who always wanted to be an engineer – couldn’t afford to. He was always tinkering with power and electricity in our home. He was my role model,” said Delos Santos.
She drew inspiration from her surroundings too, which she described as a developing country.
“We had a lack of power all of the time. We were upper-middle-class then but still exposed to those situations, so I wanted to fix the system,” she said.
Charting new waters
Engineering, she decided, was a great way to help that cause. She moved with her family to the United States in 2006 at the age of 9 and had to learn a whole different culture and language.
“There were hardships, but I got through it,” said Delos Santos.
She worked hard – so hard, in fact, that she was accepted into Grand Canyon University (GCU) with an intent to learn electrical engineering.
Delos Santos was active at GCU, appearing in a commercial and helping students in high school and college with algebra, writing and more. These experiences would help her gain enough confidence to go for a prestigious internship.
“As a tutor, I was getting comfortable socializing in different groups and settings,” she said. “Spring semester of my junior year, I applied for all sorts of internships. I applied in semiconductor roles at first. But I realized my inspiration was still power.”
So she looked to SRP.
“I thought I would just ‘shoot my shot’,” said Delos Santos. “I live on the west side, and my interview was in the East Valley. I even went to church after and asked for a sign.”
She was nervous because she was a green card holder and wasn’t sure if being a non-citizen would hurt her chances.
Delos Santos had nothing to worry about. She got the call right away. She had landed an engineering internship with SRP’s Metering Department.
Building connections and community
After her internship, she joined the company full time, first as a technician and then eventually as a rotational engineer. In the time since, she has realized that opportunities to grow engineering and career skills are nearly endless at SRP, especially when you continue to expand your network.
“I like networking. To know a lot of people, to expand my knowledge in different departments of the company,” said Delos Santos.
This includes her participation in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) at SRP. She’s been a member of Females in Technology (FIT) for five years and joined Women’s Interest Network (WIN) and the Asian Interest Network (AIN) in 2019 “Joining ERGs, such as AIN, is the best method for me to network with other SRP employees that I do not regularly collaborate on projects with. I built valuable relationships with people in Community Partnership, Water Delivery, Business Applications, and a variety of other departments. It is an outstanding chance to gain exposure to all of the different groups inside SRP.”
She also helps support her community outside of SRP. For the past three years, Delos Santos has supported the nonprofit Asian Corporate & Entrepreneur Leaders (ACEL) as a member of its leadership conference planning committee, as vice chair of ACEL’s Celebration Gala and as a coordinator for numerous networking events. She even sang the national anthem at ACEL’s key events in 2021 and 2022. SRP recognized her for this honor at its 2023 Volunteer’s Spirit Awards.
Delos Santos said she is “grateful for the opportunity to support the Asian American and Pacific Islander community through her volunteer work bringing current and aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders together in a space where they feel safe and proud of who they are.”
Powering the future
Her continued growth, she said, can serve as inspiration for other women considering engineering roles. Her advice:
“Don’t think, just do it! I think it’s good for women to go into engineering because you don’t see a lot of it. It gives you a boost of self-esteem, because it makes you think you can do the same thing other guys are doing. It broadens your horizons. Helps you see more of the world.”
Design your career
Further your skills and get hands-on experience through SRP’s Rotational Engineering Program. Learn more about applying to this two-year program today.