When Alejandro Barraza-Valdez was growing up, he was drawn to nature and science, but it didn’t occur to him that he might someday have a career in energy.
“Whether consciously or subconsciously, kids ask themselves if they think they’ll fit in,” said Alejandro, a field technician who has been working at Tucson Electric Power for four years. “If you come from an underserved area and don’t have that exposure growing up and if you don’t see people with your background working in this field, it’s very hard to picture yourself doing this work in the future.”
So when he had an opportunity to share his career choices with female students interested in STEM careers from Sunnyside High School, he was first in line to volunteer.
“I wanted to show them that it is possible – and just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not out there,” he said. “Achieving excellence in this career is not about where you come from or how you look, it’s about what your passion is.”
“And I also think it’s important to share with them that no matter what their career choice, you will find common ground with people from very different backgrounds from yours.”
Now a field technician on the Design team, Alejandro always wanted to do skilled work in the technical fields, and possibly engineering. Electricity fascinates him to this day, as does the transition to renewable energy.
“I like that it requires a lot of knowledge and I like the creativity of being able to make a design to help make our system stronger and safer and to meet our customers’ expectations,” he said. “It’s always a challenge.”
Alejandro was impressed with the engagement and curiosity of the Sunnyside students, and hopes to do more volunteering. At 27, he said he has an easy rapport and connection with students who are beginning to map out their careers. “I want to give back and I want to be inspiring to kids.”