Xavier Vera, Kirt Brooks Scholarship Recipient

Kirt Brooks Scholarship Winner Xavier Vera Shares Advice to New Students

Career Stories

Meet Xavier Vera, student at California State University, Fresno and Civil Engineering Intern at MKN. Xavier is a recipient of the Kirt Brooks Memorial Water Environment Scholarship in 2022.

When did you first know you wanted to work in the water profession?

I decided I wanted to work in water resource engineering, my first year in college. Taking my introduction to civil engineering course at Fresno State I was thinking about what emphasis suits me best.

It became clear that water was what I wanted to study. The impact water resources have on society stood out to me. Our lives are dependent on the availability and quality of water. The engineers designing the distribution systems and treatment facilities do so much for their communities. The importance of water resource engineers is higher than ever right now with the need to conserve our limited resources.

I want to be a part of the next generation of innovation and development of water resources engineering. I want to contribute and make an impact just as the water resource engineers have before me.

How did you first hear about the Kirt Brooks Scholarship?

I first heard about the Kirt Brooks Scholarship through MKN & Associates, the Water Resource Consulting Firm in Fresno California that I have been interning with for about 3 years.

How did you apply your scholarship earnings?

I used my scholarship earnings on my student loans to help cut down the amount of my student debt.

What has been your path to where you are today?

My path has definitely been an interesting story. From growing up in a single-parent household with my mom, I was taught good work ethics. I was taught that if I wanted to get something done, time and effort will be the minimum of what it takes.

Through everything, I decided at a young age regardless of whatever card I am dealt, to make and see the positive side of it.

Initially, I put that mindset I created into football, worked hard on my craft to be a good athlete, learned some great life lessons, and received some scholarships but overall decided I wanted to focus on the long-term future. I always viewed the importance of academics (graduated with a 3.8 while being a three-sport athlete in HS) and put myself in the situation to enroll at Fresno State as a Civil Engineering Major.

This was the beginning of my next journey, a different journey with the same mindset. I decided on water resources based on the ability to make an impact and contribute to society. After that, I started doing some independent studying on what water resource engineering truly is and what engineers do. I went and built a resume, reached out to a number of companies, and I knew it would be difficult but that shouldn’t be a reason not to try.

I was told I should apply in my junior or senior year by a number of companies or that I needed more experience, and I understood and did not get upset about it. I saw it as a comparison to the NFL Draft, I don’t need every team to believe in me or feel like I’m ready to help right now but I do just need one company to see what I believe I have to offer.

Then MKN & Associates interviewed me and hired me. I am extremely honored and grateful for the opportunities they have given me and all they have invested in my development. I did not become complacent though, the job is still not finished. I continue to my put effort into my studies, and absorb as much knowledge as possible from my projects with MKN.

I believe in being well-rounded, so I needed to do more. I had the grades and experience but lacked organizational leadership and award recognition. So I took the time to to resurrect the APWA (American Public Works Association Student Chapter) and became President and made the club sustainable once again.

There are a lot of people who have helped me and invested in me to get me here, which I am forever grateful for.

I would just have to say it all started with a mindset to be relentless and just have the faith in myself that there is no battle I cannot overcome and not a task I can not complete. It is all just a mindset.

What is your advice to a student entering this profession?

My advice would be always work on improving in one aspect of life. It can be school, career, mental health, or physical health, doesn’t matter just invest in yourself. You’re going to need it to truly enjoy life.

The most important piece of advice I can give is, to figure out your plan and go. Don’t make excuses or wait, just go. Continue moving forward and work hard to get it done. Seeing the results of what you invest your time in is so rewarding and everlasting.

The Kirt Brooks Memorial Scholarship provides annual scholarships for individuals attending a College, University, Community College or Technical Trade School and pursuing a course of study related to the Water Environment Field.

Do you or someone you know plan to attend a water related program next Fall? Share this link, applications for the Fall 2023 school year are due February 15. Apply for CWEA’s Kirt Brooks Scholarship program >