Chemical Engineering

Deya Riojas's Dream Job

Deya oversees the chemical process involved in extracting alumina, a substance used in aluminum foil, medicines, and other products.

Where she works
Deya works at Sherwin Alumina Company in Gregory, Texas.

What she does
Deya’s company extracts alumina from a type of rock called bauxite ore, which is shipped to them from Jamaica and Brazil. She makes sure the extraction equipment is in perfect running order and that the alumina product is of high quality. “I have to ensure that my area is running smoothly, and I troubleshoot when there are problems at the plant.”

Her story
“When I was 26, I found myself a single parent raising two young children on my own. I didn't want to spend the rest of my life working minimum-wage jobs, and I realized that I couldn't depend on other people to support me. A friend of mine was studying to become a chemical engineer and encouraged me to do the same. Chemistry and math were two of my favorite subjects in high school, so I decided to give it a try. I quit my job and depended on financial aid, scholarships, and grants to get me through college. It all paid off when I received my degree in chemical engineering and my job at Sherwin.”

Important moment
“The day I received my degree, my children were extremely proud of me.”

B.S. in chemical engineering, Texas A&M University, Kingsville, Texas.

A favorite part of the job
She’s part of a team helping to keep workers at the plant safe from potential health risks by making sure dust levels from the ore are kept to a minimum.
Where she's from
Deya was born in Monclova, in Coahuila, Mexico.

She loves swimming and going to the beach with her son and daughter. She also attends most of their sports activities. 

  • Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineer
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  • Special fields and Interdisciplinary Engineer