Gabriela Esther Martinez Padilla

Gabriela Esther Martinez Padilla

2018 Graduate Award (North Carolina)

Thank you very much for this scholarship that you have given me! it’s the first time that I earn something in my life, I did not thought I would get considered for this award so I really appreciate your help. This is an enouragement for me to continue with my education goals and hopefully become one day the person on the other side like you, helping the students to fulfill their dreams. I know you probably hear “thank you” all the time, but I am truly grateful for this, you’re helping me to show my daugther that if you work hard you can get wherever you want to go. Thank you for spreading my wings and I hope this scholarships oportunities never ends for all students with dreams just like me. And thank you for teaching me the huge impact a good deed can have in someone’s life.


Raleigh, NC


North Carolina State University


Master of Science

Career Goals:

My name is Gabriela Martínez (Gaby), I am 29 years old, and I am originally from Honduras. I was raised in Tegucigalpa the capital of Honduras. I have a lovely family, my parents and siblings, and a 9-year-old daughter who is my world.

At the time that I was looking to choose my carrier, I was not considering agriculture until I heard about Zamorano University. The philosophy of “learning by doing” deeply captured my attention I was certain that Zamorano University would give me a diverse professional experience, the one that I was looking for, and so I began my journey towards agriculture in 2007. Through the years in college I discovered my passion to work with animals. In 2011 I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and Agriculture. My thesis project was “Evaluation between the lines of chicken Arbor Acres plus® and Cobb® non sexable on productive parameters and carcass characteristics at 35 days old” under the direction of Dr. Abel Gernat.

After I graduated I had the opportunity to join Murphy Brown LLC (Laurinburg NC) as an intern. The program lasted one year, and I learned a tremendous amount about pork production. I started by learning the importance of bio-security (I worked on a multiplication farm), sow production flow, animal welfare, among other production practices. Subsequently, I had the opportunity to join the Animal Science Department of North Carolina State University as a research scholar to work with Dr. Eric van Heugten helping in projects of several MS and PhD students. I had the opportunity to be involved in study design, hands on work with sows and piglets, data collection, and analysis of results. In the second year as a Research Scholar with Dr. van Heugten, I managed a research study in collaboration with Hanor Company to study the impact of Ovugel on sow reproduction. I was responsible for all aspects of data collection and took a leadership role in sow management of the farm. Through these experiences, I realized that besides a passion to work with animals, I really enjoyed doing research. I am extremely motivated to learn more, and this encouraged me even more to continue my education by pursuing a Master’s Degree.

In august of 2016 I began my graduate program in which I had the chance to conduct my own research under the direction of Dr. Eric van Heugten and in collaboration with Dr. Xi Lin, evaluating protein sources to replace ingredients such as spray-dried plasma. My MS thesis is entitled “The role of yeast hydrolysate in increasing growth performance and promoting intestinal health of weanling pigs.” My next goal is to pursue a doctoral degree with the same focus on nutrition of swine. Specifically, maternal nutrition is receiving more attention from the scientific community and I would like to be part in developing new nutritional alternatives to help the lactating sow to obtain the nutrients she needs in order to help her piglets develop properly and to get quality litters at farrowing. This will help producers to be efficient and responsible.

After I graduate I would like to share my experiences and expertise by putting together consulting programs for swine producers and showing them the strategies, they can use to have a profitable business. I believe that agriculture is a noble profession that can benefit people from around the world and, if given the chance, I would like to be part of the challenge.