I want to thank everyone involved in the Targeting Excellence scholarship, including the sponsors, board of directors, and the state committees. Moving all the way to Kansas from Pennsylvania to start my master’s program this coming fall adds to the financial burden of the program itself. With this scholarship, I am able to focus more on my studies and other career building opportunities, which I otherwise would not be able to do. I am so grateful for this scholarship because it will allow me to achieve my education and career goals within the food animal industry.
Hometown: Langhorne, PA
School: Kansas State University
Major / Species: Master of Public Health with an Emphasis on Infectious Diseases and Zoonotics
Career Goals: From the time I was able to think about a future career as a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Coming from the suburbs, I never would have thought that I would have any involvement in agriculture, especially since I had never even touched a cow until I came to Penn State as a freshman in college. However, I entered college with the thought that I may be a large animal veterinarian because I knew that there would be a better chance of getting a job and I figured working with animals, no matter what kind, would make me happy. As I have progressed in my college career I have grown to love agriculture and food animal production. I had an internship with Country View Family Farms and loved just about every minute of it. I have realized my true passion lies, not with typical veterinary work, but with disease control. I found it fascinating to see the progression of disease as it would hit the swine farm and it fueled my desire to learn how to prevent these diseases. Starting in the fall of 2017, I will begin a graduate program at Kansas State University. I will be working to obtain my Master of Public Health with an emphasis on infectious diseases and zoonotics. I hope that once I obtain my Masters I will be able to work for the government or another agency to study and perform diagnostics on zoonotic and food animal diseases. About 75% of emerging diseases are zoonotic, and there are a number of these diseases that move between humans and food animals, which means there is an increased demand for jobs in this area. I also have an interest in epidemiology and it would be ideal if, after I finished graduate school, I could work with outbreaks in food animal diseases. I think it would be extremely rewarding to be on teams that work to prevent, track, contain and stop outbreaks such as the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5 outbreak in 2015 or the outbreak of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus in 2014. I believe that this is not only a rewarding career path, but, with the current shifts away from antibiotic use as well as the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, a critical one in order to maintain the health of our food animal herds. I am excited to learn more and to apply that knowledge to better our industry. I also have developed a passion for educating people who grew up similarly to me, and thus have been exposed to no agriculture education. I think that it is critical for everyone to understand how their food is produced because it is something that effects everyone daily. I hope that I can use the knowledge that I have learned, and continue to grow my knowledge, so that I can bring it back to areas void of agriculture education.