Going back to school to learn and grow

How Denver Water’s tuition reimbursement and mentorship programs changed one employee’s life.

August 8, 2019 | By: Missy Yoder
Wearing a graduation cap and gown, Nick is holding his degree up over his head and smiling broadly.
In May, Nick Martinez graduated with honors from Regis University with a Master of Science in organizational leadership. Photo credit: Nick Martinez.

 

If someone had told Nick Martinez at his high school graduation that he’d one day have a master’s degree in organizational leadership, he would have laughed.

“When I graduated from high school, my priority was to get a job and make money,” Martinez said. “I didn’t even think about college because it was so expensive.”

After high school, Martinez got a job with Denver Water. That was 16 years ago. Today, Martinez is a senior work planner in the utility’s Operations and Maintenance division.

Martinez has been able to learn and grow in different jobs over the years, but an internal leadership program at Denver Water was a life-changing experience for him.

Through the program, Martinez met Brian Good, currently the chief administrative officer at Denver Water, who became his mentor.

Good’s mentorship had a tremendous impact on Martinez.

“It was Brian who helped me see how I could be more and do more with my career,” Martinez said. “He pointed me toward training opportunities here at Denver Water and then recommended I go to school to study business.”

To help with school expenses, Martinez applied for Denver Water’s tuition reimbursement program, which provides full-time employees with up to $5,250 a year for approved educational activities.

He went to school for six years. During that time, Denver Water contributed $31,500 to his education.

“Without the tuition support from Denver Water, I probably wouldn’t have gone to school,” Martinez said.

Martinez enrolled at Regis University in Denver and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management in 2017.

Two men in sunglasses with graduation caps, tassels and gowns smile for the camera.
Denver Water employees Nick Martinez (right) and Matt McGavin at their graduation from Regis University in Denver after completing master’s degrees. Photo credit: Nick Martinez.

 

With that degree in hand, Martinez decided to continue his education and get a master’s degree. In May, he graduated with honors from Regis University with a Master of Science in organizational leadership.

One of the things that made an impact on Martinez during his studies was learning to see things from an organizational perspective.

“Before, I think I was probably narrow-minded and didn’t focus on the bigger picture. Now, the corporate responsibility components of our work make so much more sense to me and I feel like I can better align my work goals with our organizational goals,” Martinez said. “When you have a better understanding of business, you get a wider lens.”

Other people also have noticed his hard work.

Colleagues often ask Martinez how he managed his studies and earned his degrees. And he’s happy to share his story with others.

“My Denver Water team pushed me to keep going and to develop more tools for myself,” Martinez said. “If I can help push someone along and support them in their career progress, that makes me feel good.”

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