I would like to thank the Targeting Excellence sponsors, board and committee members for their continued support of students. I am extremely grateful to have received this scholarship as it will allow me to continue working towards my dreams!
When I first started college, I had no idea what I might end up doing for my future career as I had not found anything that I was genuinely passionate about. It was not until my junior year of college, when I enrolled in a poultry science class, that I found something that interested me. After the first week of classes, I realized that I was fascinated with poultry production. However, at this point, I did not know that it would be my passion. At the end of the course, the professor asked me to be a teaching assistant for the next semester, and I was thrilled. Becoming a teaching assistant for the first time is when I discovered that poultry science is my passion. Learning about poultry nutrition, reproduction, physiology, immunology, production, processing, and so much more is interesting and exciting, however, being able to help teach students and share my passion with others is what inspired me to pursue my graduate degree. In the past few years, I have gained a variety of knowledge and insight into the different sectors of the poultry industry. Through participating in the Midwest Poultry Consortium Center of Excellence Program, working in a poultry nutrition and welfare lab, interning with a cage-free egg production company, and now in my graduate research, I have had so many amazing experiences. These have allowed me to gain skills and knowledge that I can use in my future career. My current graduate work is focused on understanding how different housing types impact the intestinal health of laying hens, as well as testing different assays to measure intestinal permeability. Gut health plays a vital role in poultry production and can be impacted by a variety of things, which is one of the reasons why I find it interesting. There are endless opportunities for research in this area of poultry science. My previous work has given me experience with laying hens, broilers, and broiler breeders. However, I would love to broaden my horizons and possibly work with turkeys and ducks in the future. My experiences as a graduate student have greatly strengthened my interest in studying and further researching gut health in poultry. I never imagined myself working in the poultry industry, but I am grateful that this is where I ended up today. Working in animal agriculture has already opened so many doors for me, and I am excited to see what will come next. After finishing my master’s degree, I am hoping to pursue a Ph.D. My career goals are to work at a university and teach poultry courses, conduct research, and advise students. I am also interested in possibly working as a research scientist for one of the various poultry companies in the United States, or even perhaps working for the USDA. I want to share my knowledge and love for poultry with as many people as possible, and help students find their passion like I found mine.