From refining crude oil to purifying drinking water, 33-year-old Kimra Lewis has certainly experienced the full spectrum of working with vital natural resources. Already a certified wastewater operator, Lewis has dedicated herself to protecting Florida’s one-of-a-kind water ecosystem – and now she has her sights set on doing even more.
When Lewis found herself drawn to the challenges involving drinking water, she enrolled in Florida Gateway College’s Drinking Water Certification course. Just as financial challenges put this goal at risk, an advisor told Lewis about the Nestlé Waters “Every Drop Counts” scholarship. This one conversation kept her dream alive, and Lewis prevailed against tough competition to win the scholarship and the money it provided to continue her certification.
The scholarship is one of two $1,250 needs-based awards offered by Nestlé Waters each year to Florida students interested in working in the field of water management. Recipients must be taking classes in environmental science and expect to complete the program in less than a year. Lewis knew she had the experience and passion to win the award, and her faith in herself proved justified.
“I would not have been able to afford that class without help from Nestlé Waters’ scholarship,” said Lewis. “This scholarship allows me to continue working in the field I love without having the burden of tuition looming over my head.”
Lewis has had to overcome adversity to pursue her dreams. When she was younger her family moved to Florida from the U.S. Virgin Islands to pursue better opportunities, but at one point she was forced to return. Eventually Lewis got a job at an oil refinery, but that wasn’t what she really wanted. Undeterred, she made her way back to Florida.
Now, while finishing up her drinking water certification, Lewis works at a wastewater treatment facility near Orlando that serves more than 400,000 people. The plant treats wastewater so it can be reused for other beneficial purposes. Lewis’ job includes taking samples, measuring contaminants and monitoring the purification process to make sure the water leaving the facility is much cleaner than when it came in.
“It was definitely a field that I was interested in, but I never thought I would love it this much,” said Lewis. “Now I’m looking forward to working at a drinking water facility – possibly even at one belonging to Nestlé Waters. It really is the greenest job on earth.”