Phil Rivas has watched the foreclosure epidemic nearly destroy the economy and his personal finances.

As a 45-year-old husband and father of four, this turmoil drove him to seek a new career and do life-altering research. After his research revealed that demand for wastewater treatment would increase during the next 10 years, Phil looked for training at many Southern California schools.

He found that SBVC’s program couldn't be beat and scheduled an appointment with Department Chair Achala Chatterjee.

"I was looking for an industry I could get into that was pretty much recession-proof," Phil said.

Phil started in SBVC’s Wastewater Treatment program in January 2009. Shortly thereafter, Phil accepted a 32-hour-a-week unpaid internship with the County of San Bernardino.

"It really was a challenge to go back to school and learn a whole new industry, which is like learning a new language at my age," Phil said. "I had to have my focus set at a really high level and make school number one." 

While earning multiple licenses in water distribution, water treatment, and a Wastewater I certificate, he was never far from a familiar companion: water.

"I was a scuba instructor for a while and I've always enjoyed water. The attention from the professors, the time they spend, and the way they explain the material has helped me progress," Phil shared. "They have all made the program and the career really fulfilling and enjoyable."

With the help of SBVC and the Wastewater Treatment Program staff, Phil has found a stable career that he plans to retire from.

Since starting his internship at the San Bernardino Reclamation plant in February 2009, Phil has turned down several offers. On October 19th, 2009, Phil's efforts and internship paid off when he was hired full-time at the San Bernardino plant.

His next step is to get an Associate’s degree and continue his education at a four-year institution. Phil is still pursuing his goals within SBVC’s Wastewater Treatment program.