Ellina Yin

Ellina Yin likes to quote Horace Mann, who said, “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for mankind.” Yin says the deep motivation she drew from that quotation led her to construction waste-water treatment as her path to victory. “I’ve always had an interest in water and preserving the oceans,” Yin says. “I can’t imagine myself in any other field.”

The 25-year-old is the youngest worker at her company’s headquarters. Her youth, coupled with being a woman, differentiates her from most of her co-workers. However, she says, her work ethic aligns most closely to the older people on the staff. She finds satisfaction in hard work but says this does not come automatically with most members of her generation.

“The people who we’ve hired out of college seem to have an entitled attitude,” Yin complains. “They’re very eager to prove themselves, but as far as taking instruction and going through the hard work, I think they have a lot to learn. I started working at 16 and had a more traditional upbringing and value system than many of them.”

Offering eloquent quotations and high ideals about the clean earth for which she strives, Yin says she believes hard work is the only way to achieve it—even if it means sometimes starting her day at 4 a.m.

She is a member of the Construction Millennials of America, a group formed to connect young workers as well as identify and address generation-gap issues.