In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month Georgia Power distributed a news release with reflections from Aixa del Valle, an engineer at Plant McDonough near Smyrna. Del Valle grew up in Puerto Rico, and currently lives in Marietta.
We’ve reprinted the news release below:
For Aixa del Valle, Hispanic Heritage Month is more than a celebration of her culture and community. It’s a reminder of Puerto Rico, the island that is more than 1,500 miles away from Atlanta where she now calls home.
For the first 25 years of her life, del Valle grew up on the Caribbean island with her family, graduating from the University of Puerto Rico – Mayaguez with a degree in Chemical Engineering. In 2010, she had the opportunity to go to graduate school with a scholarship at the University of South Carolina.
“I took the opportunity without hesitance,” said del Valle. “For many Puerto Ricans, it’s a big step to move away, but looking back and just going for it was a great decision for me.”
This Hispanic Heritage Month, del Valle is reflecting on her culture and looking forward to going back home to Puerto Rico this holiday season for the first time in nearly three years.
Family is a priority for del Valle and being away from her parents since the earthquakes rocked in the island in 2019 and the pandemic that followed in 2020 has been difficult.
“The pandemic and the prior earthquakes and hurricanes that struck Puerto Rico have absolutely affected businesses and the people,” she said. “The island relies on tourism and it was down for quite some time and is still coming back.”
When Hurricane Maria toppled the small island in 2017 as a category 5 storm, the island suffered a horrific humanitarian crisis and damaged at least 80% of their energy grid.
Georgia Power was among the mainland U.S. utilities that provided mutual assistance to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) following the storm, sending hundreds of employees to support the restoration efforts for weeks on end.
“Three months after the hurricane hit, my father was texting me pictures of Georgia Power line trucks in their community. It touched my heart because I never thought that something like this could happen and seeing the company that I work for helping my family was so touching.”
Del Valle joined Georgia Power in 2014 as a plant engineer – first at Plant Scherer near Macon and now at Plant McDonough in Cobb County. Actively involved in the company and her community, she is the president of AMIGOS, the Hispanic and Latino employee resource group.
“Georgia Power has so many programs that help our Latino and Hispanic employees and helps them work through barriers to be successful at work and in their communities,” she said. “AMIGOS is a safe space where we can help each other out.”
This Hispanic Heritage Month, the ERG is hosting several employee events and celebrating their culture and the community in Georgia.
“It’s a vibrant, energetic culture and we are dedicated to moving our community forward and making change possible. We are truly the liaison between Georgia Power and the Hispanic and Latino community across the state.”
Aixa del Valle is a senior engineer at Georgia Power’s Plant McDonough in Cobb County. She currently lives in Marietta.