Ryan Lews, Piedmont, CA
Ryan Lewis, 18, is from Piedmont, CA, and is a full-time student at the University of California-Davis studying biochemical engineering. He has been surrounded by engineering and science his entire life with a mother and father who are both civil engineers in the solid waste industry. “Mom still chuckles when she tells people she would read the specifications for construction equipment to me from the Caterpillar Performance Handbook rather than bedtime stories,” he wrote in his application. During his summers in high school he has worked on several science- and engineering-related projects, including creating mobile environmental apps and improving street networks.
Lacy Rutledge, Baytown, TX
Lacy Rutledge, 18, from Baytown, TX, has been accepted to Texas A&M University and plans to study chemical engineering. She was introduced to the solid waste industry and its challenges by her father, a heavy equipment mechanic for Republic Services in Anahuac. “Listening to my dad discuss his day at the landfill at dinner encouraged me to pursue a degree in the environmental field to find more productive ways to harvest waste and oils, fuel, and other chemicals,” she wrote in her application. To do that, Rutledge wants to study chemical engineering and develop efficient, clean, and useful methods for processing materials – and make life better for people as a result. In addition to her career interests, she is active in the Future Farmers of America, a member of the National Honor Society, and a volunteer at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
Kaitlyn Trent, Fayetteville, OH
Kaitlyn Trent, 20, of Fayetteville, OH, is a full-time student at Bowling Green State University, where she studies environmental policy and analysis with a specialization in environmental law. Trent was introduced to the solid waste industry and its challenges by her mother, who works for Waste Management. “I wish to continue the family legacy with the company by pursuing a career as an environmental protection specialist, or frankly anything regarding the policy side of the environmental industry,” she wrote in her application. “I maintain the opinion that the most effective way to protect and better the environment universally is accomplished by the creation of environmental laws regulating correlating fields.” Trent is active in several of Bowling Green State’s environmental organizations, most recently helping plan its Earth Day celebration. She is a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society and works as a lab assistant in the biology department studying the effects of pollution on wildlife.
Dawn McMahan, Eyota, MN
Dawn McMahan, 32, of Eyota, MN, has three full-time occupations: office manager for Advanced Disposal, student at Augsburg College in Minneapolis and mother to two school-aged children. “It's very important to be a role model for my children by showing them no matter what age you begin or continue your education, it’s important to finish and strive for excellence in higher learning,” she wrote in her application. “I want my children to know the importance of going to college and what opportunities of a having a degree can do for a career.” When her degree is in hand, McMahan hopes to move ahead in Advanced Disposal. Its mission is one she embraces. “I'm passionate about creating a culture that is conscious about the environment we live in and wanting to protect, clean and enhance the environment,” she wrote.
Laura Morris, Midwest City, OK
Laura Morris, 41, is a full-time employee of Sea Coast Disposal in Midwest City, OK, where she works as an office manager. She plans to study environmental science at Rose State College. Two relatives – a sister and a brother-in-law – work in the solid waste business and served as inspirations. “I felt that refuse was bred in me and that two very important people in my life had been in this business for a big part of my life,” Morris wrote in her application. “I changed my degree to environmental science and am proceeding with my new career. I look forward to many years in this industry and have several mentors to help me along my way.”