Zamantha Lopez Aldaco was a senior at Mesa’s Westwood High School in 2009 when she joined the AGUILA Youth Leadership Institute. The Phoenix-based nonprofit, which prepares youth for college admission based on cultural understanding, encouraged her to apply as she prepared to graduate.
A full circle story
More than 10 years later, Lopez Aldaco is the first graduate of the program to sit on AGUILA’s board of directors. We spoke to her about how she is actively working at SRP and with AGUILA, together for a better Arizona.
Tell us about your role at SRP.
I first started as a Rotational Engineer at SRP, rotating through four groups.
Now, I am a Senior Engineer in the Engineering Drafting and Design group. My job consists of supporting the plants with control system projects.
For example, we are migrating controls from General Electric Mark V to Emerson Ovation on the gas and steam turbines. We have completed two out of the four power blocks at the Gila River Generating Station and will be completing the third block this fall.
How does AGUILA – the Leadership Institute that you graduated from and now serve on the board for – support the community?
AGUILA’s mission is to create positive change in our communities and in our world through the development of youth as educated, articulate, intelligent, compassionate, ethical and thoughtful leaders.
AGUILA also teaches students about our heritage and how to tell stories about it. It also shows kids how to pay success forward and stay involved in the community.
I have seen this program achieve these results continuously through my involvement in volunteering. The organization is constantly looking for ways to develop their students and is quick to solve any problems.
For example, the usual sessions held for the students that include speakers and workshops are now being held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. Students have responded well to the change thanks to the excellent AGUILA staff.
Why is it important for SRP to support cultural nonprofits like AGUILA?
AGUILA was the first time I saw something I was involved with directly impact where I ended up — in generation engineering at SRP.
SRP’s support of AGUILA is helping develop a future workforce, focusing on underserved populations that may need additional resources to get to college.
Getting engaged early on can make a difference. We’re creating a larger pool of students geared for success, of students that get a college education.
What excites you about the future?
The intelligence, passion and perseverance of our youth. Whenever I volunteer at AGUILA sessions to speak about STEM career opportunities, the questions and steps students are taking always impress me.
Some of these students have overcome significant obstacles to get through the program and attend college, and it is truly heartwarming and inspiring to see.
It is also a great way to get great students exposed to my alma mater, the University of Rochester. Since I graduated and attended the UofR, seven other students have gone there – from here in Arizona all the way to New York!”
SRP celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
At SRP, it makes us proud to know that our customers and our employees are part of the same community. This Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re sharing stories of SRP employees whose strong ties are making the Valley a better place for us all.
We’re working juntos por un mejor Arizona — together for a better Arizona. Follow us on LinkedIn for more stories and a look at what it’s like to work at SRP.