Spotlight Feb. 2024: Water Leaders Share How ACWA Scholarships Helped Launch Careers

  • by ACWA Staff
  • Feb 16, 2024
  • Newsletters

ACWA began its scholarship program in 1961 with the goal of investing in future water leaders and cultivating a rich workforce of water professionals dedicated to ensuring safe and reliable water for all Californians. Over the past 63 years, ACWA has awarded scholarships to numerous students, enabling them to pursue their water-resources related education and career goals.

In addition, the newly formed ACWA Foundation launched its separate scholarship program last year by awarding a total of $50,000 to eight students.

ACWA members are encouraged to promote available ACWA scholarship opportunities in their newsletters and on their websites, as well as internally through employee communications and announcements as member agency employees and their families are eligible to apply.

This year, $34,500 is available through five scholarships, including ACWA Scholarships that are awarded to two undergraduate students majoring in engineering, agricultural or urban water supply, environmental studies, public administration and other water-resources related fields. As a few accompanying profiles of past recipients show, ACWA Scholarships can help make a meaningful impact in launching careers in water.

The application deadline for 2024 scholarships offered through ACWA is March 1. For more information about ACWA’s scholarships, visit www.acwa.com/scholarships. For more information about the ACWA Foundation scholarships, visit www.acwa-foundation.org. 

Jacob Katz, Ph.D.

2005 ACWA Scholarship Winner

Current position: Senior Scientist, CalTrout

How did earning an ACWA scholarship help your water career?

“By opening my eyes to the diversity of perspectives within California water, it really helped me see how important it was to build coalitions and work toward a California that has sufficient water for our natural and human communities.”

What advice would you give college students considering a career in water?

“Do it. We need you!”

Lynn Groundwater Moeller

2009 Clair Hill Scholarship and 2010 ACWA Scholarship Winner

Current position: Senior Engineer, Provost & Pritchard Consulting Group

How did earning an ACWA scholarship help your water career?

“Part of the ACWA scholarship application was an essay that included what I hoped to achieve in my professional career. While writing the essay, I took some time to really think about what I wanted to do in my professional career. Looking back at the essay, I realize that the ACWA scholarship application process helped my water career by putting my goals and aspirations in writing. In my essay I said that I aspired to address both structural improvements in California’s water systems and improvements in water use efficiency. 

“I’m happy to say I have been doing just that. I have lived up to the goals that I set for myself and continue to work with California water agencies to improve their water systems and work towards sustainability.”

What advice would you give college students considering a career in water?

“My advice would be to take advantage of internships during college. College and internships are a time to learn more about the water industry since there are a variety of different career paths you can take within the industry. Take water classes that sound interesting to you. Have different types of internships in the water industry to help you figure out what type of work you enjoy. When you enjoy what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.” 

Benjamin Smith

2011 ACWA Scholarship Winner

Current position: Director of Recharge and Wetland Operations at Orange County Water District, lectures at CSU Long Beach for undergraduate civil engineering water courses.

How did earning an ACWA scholarship help your water career? 

“The ACWA scholarship not only helped me cover higher education expenses, but helped confirm that I was on the correct career path.  Water engineering and management was of interest to me prior to entering a bachelor’s program. The process of applying for the ACWA scholarship aided me to study the water world more deeply and further confirm my passion for the field.”

What advice would you give college students considering a career in water?

“A career in water resources has strong job security and a lot of advancement opportunities for individuals that apply themselves to the field.  As you study water and other topics in college, make sure you are really applying yourself to the course material.  You are not just checking off a to-do list, but you are laying the foundation for a successful career and years of helping others to live safe and prosperous lives.

“It helps to understand the course material if you understand the real-world applications of what you are studying, so seek out internships, professional associations, and technical tours.  For example, when you know what a pump looks like and how it connects to pipes, you will be able to understand pump curves, efficiency, and horsepower on a deeper level.”

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