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Hillsborough Co. employee works his way from entry level to manager of largest capital improvement project

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Posted at 12:31 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 16:03:54-04

TAMPA, Fla. — In Hillsborough County, the manager of a wastewater treatment plant is proving it doesn’t matter where you start, but what you do with the opportunity.

Alfonso Higareda started at the bottom level, literally, digging through the gunk, and now he is the manager of The Northwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility.

An average of 15 to 20 million gallons of waste water enters the facility every day and it’s Higareda’s responsibility to make sure when it leaves, it’s safe to use for irrigation.

“Feeling that I’m doing something for the community, that’s amazing, its a feeling you can not take away,” said Higareda.

Higareda is a long way from his home country of Mexico. He moved to the United States with his family at age 14.

“I do reflect because its very important not to forget where you come from,” said Higareda.

Higareda was in search of the American Dream, but little did he know it would look and smell so bad.

“I started as a trainee, cleaning a lot of empty tanks that are filled with a lot of stuff,” said Higareda. “Actually, I thought about quitting at first, it wasn’t easy.”

He knew from his own family, if he was going to climb the ladder it was going to take perseverance.

“The roots of hardworking people, I learned those from my father, he was a welder for 30 years and worked very, very, hard to support his family,” said Higareda.

Now, 14-years later, Higareda is pushing ever button as plant manager, leading 21 employees, and overseeing a $200 million dollar facility that never closes.

“I have to keep moving forward I can’t stop here its got to be more,” said Higareda.

The husband and father of two hopes he’s an inspiration to anyone just starting an entry level job. Things may seem murky in the beginning, but there are clearer days ahead.

“You can actually become what you want it’s just a lot of effort and a lot of hard work,” said Higareda.