Breanna Paras, a 2014 graduate from Churchill County High School, is now an entry-level engineer at a large international firm but cherishes her hometown roots and the unique experiences growing up in Fallon gave her. “Truly, I believe that growing up in Churchill County is a unique experience because it’s a deeper bond beyond what a lot of people understand,” Breanna said.
Breanna was born and raised in Fallon with her parents, Jeanette and Eugene Paras, and her sister Genea. “Whenever I talk to my friends and fiancé about my life growing up in Fallon, it’s a stark difference from their tales – and quite frankly, I’m actually proud of it,” she said. Breanna fondly remembers the things that set her childhood experience apart from others – the class field trips to farms, the teachers that inspired her career path, and the friends she’s still just as close with today.
More than just providing a great childhood, Breanna says her experiences in Churchill County allowed her to be well-rounded, with opportunities in different fields for everyone. During high school, Breanna was active with clubs, athletics, and maintaining academic achievement. Over her four years, she took up cheerleading, running track and field, and spent time on the Athletic Team, Student Council, and National Honor Society.
But Breanna says it was really the people who surrounded her that made her experience so great and ultimately set her on the path she is today. She remembers her AP Chemistry class she took with Mr. Johnson and his advocacy for careers in STEM. While chemistry wasn’t in her wheelhouse, her AP Physics class with Mrs. Strasdin shined a light on what clicked and inspired her to pursue a career in civil engineering.
After high school, Breanna attended the University of Nevada, Reno, and received her bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering. “I kept my head up during the hardest of my classes, and made some lifelong friends that I still keep in contact with,” Breanna said. As she pursued her degree, she became interested in the environmental side of civil engineering. She interned with the Washoe County Public Utilities, working hands-on with the wastewater reclamation facility, and later found her ultimate passion in wastewater design. “I think that’s the coolest part about engineering. You can physically see the product you’re producing or the project you’re designing,” she said.
Now a full-time entry-level engineer in Reno, Breanna is pursuing her Professional Engineer license, which will enable her to have the experience and qualifications to submit designs to her clients. As a woman in a STEM field, Breanna is used to breaking down barriers. However, wastewater design engineering is a particularly male-dominated field. “I’m the only girl in my office who’s in this specific area I’m in,” she notes. To young women looking to STEM fields, Breanna says, “Don’t let the boys get you down. Don’t see gender whatsoever. Be confident in yourself and be sure in your abilities.”
As part of her day-to-day work as a Wastewater Designer, Breanna works on multiple projects at once. Currently, she is collaborating on a large expansion of a wastewater reclamation plant in Las Vegas. The project consists of a full improvement expansion of the preliminary treatment to handle a capacity of 150 million gallons per day, as well as doing preemptive considerations for a future 180 million gallon per day capacity expansion on the same system. “My main role to design different pipelines that interconnect all of the processes and also mitigate the existing utilities – which means I am re-locating them in the most logical way,” she described.
When asked about her ultimate goal in her field of work, Breanna characterized it best as “open, with an upward trajectory.” Her passion lies with ensuring the design of our water infrastructure is sustainable and built to last. With her set of skills and the community of support behind her, the future possibilities are countless.
Breanna’s parents still reside in Fallon. Now both retired, her mom was a preschool teacher and her dad served as a Senior Chief in the Navy. While he still works on base in the medical department as a civilian, they enjoy the simple and quiet living of Churchill County. Her sister lives in Washington with her family works at Puget Sound Energy as an Ethics Program Manager.