Valpo Alumna Follows Passions Around the Globe
Britney Meyer ’11, a civil engineering and Spanish double major, has traveled the world using her faith and her interests to impact communities in the Midwest, Honduras, Tanzania, and beyond.
After working for the city of Chicago for three years after graduation, Britney pursued an opportunity that would take her overseas for a year. Britney participated in the World Race, a program for young adults who travel to 11 different countries in 11 months and partner with local Christian organizations and missionaries.
“It was a year full of growth, adventure and culture. I had the chance to participate in construction work, water filter distribution, teaching English, serving in orphanages, and assisting with agriculture — all to glorify the Lord,” Britney says.
While World Race was Britney’s longest overseas service opportunity, it was not her first. Through Engineers Without Borders (EWB) at Valpo, Britney participated in an implementation trip to Tanzania that involved designing and constructing a water distribution system that gave a community access to clean drinking water. Britney continued working with EWB, now known as WAVES after graduation and went on two more implementation trips in Honduras.
Britney’s experiences with World Race and EWB allowed her to utilize her civil engineering skills, but studying abroad also gave her the opportunity to hone her Spanish proficiency.
“When I was at Valpo, the VIEP Spanish program wasn’t in place, so I had to creatively find a way to get my engineering degree and study abroad,” Britney says. “The program to Zaragoza, Spain, became available my senior year, and I was the first and only student to go that semester. There were some hiccups to get through and stressful moments, but living with a local family and being immersed in the Spanish culture made it all worth it.”
Carmine Polito, Ph.D., P.E., Alfred W. Sieving Endowed Chair of Engineering and professor of civil engineering, saw Britney’s overseas experiences as the key to bringing her passions together.
“During her senior year, Britney was struggling with whether or not engineering was her vocation,” Professor Polito says. “We had several long talks about how she could use her engineering skills to further her faith and help people. I think her year traveling the globe doing exactly that has helped her come to understand that her vocation to help people can match up nicely with a career in engineering.”
Although many of Britney’s most influential opportunities came from serving and studying abroad, she has also found success and ways to utilize her passions in the Midwest.
After graduation, Britney accepted a job with the city of Chicago to work on a program to design and construct more than 100 miles of water main replay per year.
“Living in Chicago was overwhelming at first, but I knew I had to establish community and be open to exploring new things, an approach I honed at Valpo,” Britney says. “Eventually I became part of a church and found ways to serve in the city through tutoring and serving dinner for a homeless program.”
Britney returned from World Race and relocated to her hometown, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to work for GRAEF, a full-service engineering firm, where she completes various utility projects for local municipalities. In her spare time, she also gives back to her community by mentoring high school students through her church’s youth program.
Britney has followed her passions around the world to help communities and develop her sense of purpose, yet all of these opportunities stemmed from her time in Valparaiso, Indiana.
“At Valpo, I could be a well-rounded person who focused on school, my faith, the community, and personal interests — not just academics,” Britney says.
As a double major, Britney managed a bustling academic schedule while still finding time to be involved in campus organizations. She was the education chair for EWB (which has since transformed into WAVES — Working Across Vocations Everywhere through Service), the Girl Scout chair and secretary for the Kappa Delta sorority, a flute player in the Chamber Concert Band, and a member in a variety of other engineering-based clubs.
“While education and preparation for a future career is important and a priority at Valpo, Valpo also places an emphasis on faith and community involvement,” Britney says. “That has helped me be successful because I was able to learn how to cultivate a life that gave me value, both personally and professionally. I was able to follow my passions both in and outside of my career. I hope to be able to continue to grow in my faith, be an active participant in my community, excel in my work, travel and positively impact my spheres of influence.”