Thanks to the Water Leadership Institute (WLI) and the WEF InFLOW-WLI Scholarship, I had the pleasure of attending the WEFTEC 2021 conference in Chicago from October 16-20.

The conference was wonderfully put together. The first day I met with my fellow WLI team for the first time in-person. We heard several water professional speakers give their presentations. Each were genuinely enthusiastic about the water industry. There were even water professionals from other countries in attendance at the event and plenty of opportunity to introduce yourself and network. At the end of the day, all WLI graduates participated in an awards ceremony and received a beautiful blue plaque for successfully completing our six-month program.

The second day at WEFTEC was equally exciting. I was able to meet Jessica Rozek, the WEF Operator Programs Manager who referred me WLI. She also introduced me to other water professionals at the event. There were hundreds of vendors in the exhibit hall to visit and learn about their products. During this time Operations Challenge was also happening. There were 32 teams performing in several categories of timed tasks. It was awesome watching them in action.

The remaining few days were filled with various sessions on many different topics that began early in the morning and went well into the evening. There was no lack of options. Two of my favorite sessions were the screening of the documentary Brave Blue World and discussions of the problems in the Alabama Black Belt. Both sessions explained serious issues involving water contamination and shortages. They also focused on what is being done to improve the situations and brainstormed other ideas that could contribute to a sustainable future.

After participating in the virtual WEF InFLOW: CareerTech program in 2020 it was incredible to experience WEFTEC in-person. I met some very nice people who have a great passion for their careers in water, gained some new professional contacts, and learned more about water issues and solutions. I hope to continue my journey in the world of water!

And FYI: I also enjoyed seeing the beautiful architecture of downtown Chicago during a sightseeing cruise on the Chicago River and the Navy Pier is a beautiful space. I love being near water and so of course, I took many photos!

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Aimee Bajoie

Aimee Patricia Bajoie is a science major at Baton Rouge Community College with only three classes left to earn her associate of general science degree and is also an alum of the WEFTECH InFlow program.  She is a 2020 WEF InFLOW Scholar and 2021 Water Leadership Institute Graduate. Currently, she is studying for the wastewater operator certification exam with plans to enter the water sector workforce. 

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