Derek Luna is a water-resource civil engineer currently working with Kimley-Horn Engineering. Based in Chicago, Derek works on Hydraulic and Hydrologic Engineering projects around the country, primarily focusing his work on public infrastructure and solar energy plants in remote areas. Originally from El Paso, Texas and an alumni of Texas Tech University, Derek has travelled all over the country for professional and educational opportunities, and has worked to advocate for the rights of underrepresented minority students, financially challenged students, and international students, all-the-while advocating the impact and growth that studies abroad can have on personal development. During his fourth year of undergraduate studies, Derek took the opportunity to apply to study in Bhutan the summer of 2019. Despite the fact that he’d attended three different undergraduate schools in his undergraduate journey (University of New Mexico, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and Texas Tech University), Derek sought to continue pursuing the growth that comes with exposing yourself to new surroundings and opportunities, and became a 2018-2019 FEA Scholar. During his time abroad, Derek worked to understand the complicated issues that remote communities like Bhutan have to deal with in order to remain self-sufficient and stable, despite the negative impact outside investment and the changing climate was having on the region. He travelled throughout the western region of the country, met with federal and regional engineers, and directly tested and summarized the changing quality and quantity of water resources present in the western region of the nation. Through that work, he saw the profound impact that connecting with others in different cultures could have, and became an even stronger advocate for the rights of community stakeholders. That experience is what led Derek to further pursue work in water resource engineering and management in Chicago following graduation, as it is a truly great city with plenty of room for improvement and growth as it pertains to their public infrastructure.
Through his work with the Fund for Education Abroad, Derek is hoping to help advocate further for students who have to overcome the same financial barriers he did in order to have transformative experiences abroad. His life is an example of the substantial impact that travel and connection with others can make on a person, and is proud to be able to work to bring that same growth to others, just like the Fund for Education Abroad seeks to do.