AIKEN, S.C. – Francesca De Rienzo wanted to earn money for college and travel the world after high school.
With art classes and set-building experience, she pursued her ideal job: aircraft structural maintenance, which includes metal work and painting on aircraft, with the U.S. Air Force.
De Rienzo is now a U.S. veteran and an assistant cost and scheduling specialist with Savannah River Remediation (SRR), EM’s liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site.
“After leaving Pennsylvania, where I grew up, I traveled to South Carolina and from there went to South Korea, Japan, England, and Africa,” De Rienzo said. “I worked on F-16s, F-15s, C130s, and helicopters, and I embraced the adventures of military life and the beauty unique to each place I went, as well as the people that I met.”
In Japan, she met her future husband. After returning to the U.S., the couple moved to Augusta, Georgia, where she enrolled at Augusta University.
On campus, De Rienzo heard good things about part-time employment at SRR through the Veteran Cooperative Program, an educational program providing qualifying veterans part-time paid developmental jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and non-STEM fields relating to their degree of study.
De Rienzo applied and felt at ease during her interview with the panel of military veterans at SRR. She was hired as an administrative assistant in the project management group.
“Everyone at SRR is so friendly, always saying hello with a smile and showing a genuine interest in me,” De Rienzo said. “I grew as a person during my summer intern experience because everyone invested in me and believed in me.”
De Rienzo was the first to graduate from the Veteran Cooperative Program, and she earned her degree in business management from Augusta University in December 2015. She became a full-time SRR employee this year.
"While in the Air Force, I also worked in the tool crib, ordered supplies for various repairs, and evaluated contractor work and military flight line maintenance, in addition to my own fabrication maintenance,” De Rienzo said. “Little did I know all the experience I received in all these areas would serve as a tremendous stepping stone for the work I do here at SRR.”