I started my career with the U.S. Marine Corps and spent 10 years with the military. Through multiple combat deployments to the Middle East, I developed the critical leadership skills needed to create a cohesive team with the priorities being to keep the team safe and successfully complete our missions.

Following my military experience and being discharged in 2014, I’m still adjusting to being a civilian. In determining the next course of my life, I enrolled in East Los Angeles College (ELAC) and started an internship with AECOM through BuildLACCD. I learned about the internship opportunities through ELAC’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program where I’m currently a math major.

At this time, while supporting my family in Montebello, I’m considering becoming a high school math teacher, and my internship experience has helped me discover a number of different possibilities for my future. My AECOM managers have been very supportive of my efforts, in particular with regard to accommodating my school schedule and assuring me that my education is a priority. I feel I have a gift for teaching that started as an interest in high school, became stronger in the military and has since been reinforced by my internship mentors, teachers and counselors. Everyone takes the time to answer my questions, no matter what they may be, and I would like to do the same for others.

My advice for other students trying to balance the demands of family, work and study?

• Even when things seem impossible and life gets overwhelming, you have to fight through it. Remember everything you are doing now is to make a better future for yourself (and your family) and hard work pays off. People notice.
• Even though I don’t see them as much as I would like, my kids are my inspiration and I know they’ll benefit from my education and experience. Being a positive role model for others gives you strength and purpose.
• Take advantage of the resources available to you — such as internships, mentors and military veteran support. ELAC’s Veteran Resource Center was very valuable to me in helping me make a life transition. They understand where I’ve come from — and where I want to go.