Caitlin Cullum

Caitlin Cullum

Thank you to all of the Targeting Excellence sponsors, the board of directors, and committees for awarding me with this scholarship! Agriculture has always been a passion of mine from a young age and thanks to people like everyone of you I am able to continue pursuing a degree in Animal Science at Penn State!

Hometown: Airville, PA

School: Pennsylvania State University

Major / Species: Animal Science

Career Goals: In life, there is one moment when you realize what you truly want to pursue in life. Not everyone’s moment comes when they are young, sometimes it takes a little searching and one day it just hits you. Growing up through the years on a small farm, my days were spent washing market hogs, riding horses, and practicing with my meat goats for show. A passion for animals, specifically livestock has always been near and dear to my heart. My passion and nurturing nature for the animals on my farm has always lead me to believe that upon graduating from Penn State University that I would go on to become a large animal veterinarian. In my first few years at Penn State, I attended a branch campus and I still had thoughts about vet school, but I was very unsure of the idea. The moment in which I realized what I truly knew what I wanted to do came when I made the move to University Park, and I moved onto the Penn State Dairy. I never had much experience with cows growing up other than helping friends lead them around at fairs, so when I received the opportunity to live and work there I was very willing to learn. Since then I have absolutely fallen in love with the dairy industry and have even gotten the chance to get some experience with beef cattle. My only dilemma now was that I knew what species I was really interested in, but had no idea what career I could have. A few weeks into living in University Park I met with my advisor, Dr. Ott, and talked to him about my interest in dairy and possible careers. While in conversation Dr. Ott said to me, “have you ever thought of going to grad school?”. I told him, to be honest, that it had never crossed my mind. He continued to talk to me about getting my Master’s degree in Animal Science. We talked about what I could do with the degree in the dairy industry and narrowed down some possible specializations. The combination of starting to work with dairy cattle and that twenty-minute conversation that I had with my advisor was the very moment in which I realized my career goals and what I really wanted to do in life. The part of the plan that I had as a little girl to graduate from Penn State University for my undergrad is still true to this day, but the ending is a little different. Upon finishing my bachelor’s degree in Animal Science, I plan to go on to get my Master’s degree, also at Penn State, either specializing in reproduction or nutrition.