by Lauren Patheal Valencia, Public Affairs Administrator, Southwest Gas

As an Arizona native, the desert is in my roots. I’ve known since birth that I wanted to attend Arizona State University and graduate a proud Sun Devil. My grandfather, a Glendale resident of nearly 40 years, was president of the Sun Devil Club and a diehard ASU sports fan who inspired within me a love of and passion for all things Sun Devil since childhood. Deciding where to attend college was easy, but determining a career path after graduation was a little less certain.

In college, I changed my major a few different times – everything from political science to broadcast journalism – before deciding that my favorite classes (the ones that allowed me to read…a LOT) would yield a bachelor’s degree in English concentrating in literature. As one might imagine, liberal arts degrees weren’t exactly a hot commodity in the post-recession job market, but I was lucky to land an internship with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, an industry where my love of politics, policy and communications converged beautifully.

Flashing forward a decade, from the private sector to the public sector, and back to the private sector again, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work for individuals and organizations that share my values, support my vision and adhere to similar professional philosophies: work hard, give back and always deposit in tasks and relationships more than you withdraw from them. I’ve also had the exceptional honor of working with elected and appointed officials from across the country who embody the principal of service above self.

I was especially privileged for several years to serve as the assistant to Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord, an outstanding public servant committed to developing her community into a better, more prosperous, condition than when she arrived. Working alongside Mayor Lord and learning from her gracious leadership style and humble commitment to service was the experience of a lifetime.

Earlier this year, during my onboarding with Southwest Gas, I was delighted and impressed to learn about the company’s rich history of service, deep commitment to responsible growth and generous investment in the many communities in which we operate. Through Fuel for Life, our philanthropic-giving program, and BLUE (Building Lives Up Everywhere), our employee-volunteer team, Southwest Gas encourages a culture of service and provides an excellent opportunity for employees to enrich the lives of others. It’s truly inspiring to be surrounded with a team of likeminded “Southwesters,” and I am proud to work for such an incredible company that shares my values.