In these unprecedented times where the animal food supply chain has been faced with challenges, I am so thankful to receive support from the Targeting Excellence Scholarship. The work you do to safeguard animal agriculture is critical for the future of the industry, and we are all so thankful to take what we have learned from this experience and apply it in our future careers. I greatly appreciate your support, and I look forward to one day giving back to the industry that has given me so much.
For nearly the past decade, State College has been my home. When I first stepped foot here freshman year, I was eager and excited to confront the rest of my life. I was ready to earn a degree and contribute to the agriculture industry. In 2016, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in animal science and with many job opportunities to choose from, I accepted a job with Bell & Evans, a small poultry processor in south central PA. I loved what I did and who I worked for; life was good. It was not long after I started my job that another opportunity presented itself. After six months of work I found myself back at Penn State pursuing a master’s degree in animal science. In this transition back to school, I was fortunate to have not only the well wishes from Bell & Evans, but also a commitment of financial support. Over the course of my degree I performed research specific to food safety for raw chicken products. Beyond my research I was exposed to an entirely new perspective of career opportunities that I had not before considered. Eventually the time came, I completed my degree, and despite a few job opportunities, I opted to stay at Penn State for one more go-around and pursue my PhD. I am now two years into my Ph.D. program doing similar research to decontaminate food products. I am often asked what I intend to do with my degree, and it would be unfair to answer that question without the context of how got here. Growing up in a small suburban community I never thought I would be in the position I am now, knowing what I know today. Every degree I have pursued has opened doors that I never thought possible. Since continuing my academic career, I now not only see myself in industry, but also influencing policy that safeguards consumers and our agricultural community. I have become passionate about challenging the trends of our food production, and I am excited to bring an innovative spirit when strengthening our food supply. Whether working in government or industry, I aim to use my experience to make improvements on how our food is produced in safe and affordable ways. I aspire to strengthen regulations for consumer safety and health while promoting the entrepreneurial spirit of the evolving industry. Ultimately, I someday hope to be one of the many individuals that work together to solve the problems of tomorrow in an ever-changing industry.