Hometown: Fayetteville, AR (current); Vilonia, AR (hometown)
Title/Position: Graduate Student at the University of Arkansas working on my Master of Science in Agricultural Economics
Briefly describe your role:
I am in my second year of my master’s program where I am finishing my thesis. My thesis research focuses on rice trade in Southeast Asia. My coursework has included classes on agricultural policy, agricultural trade, behavioral economics, rural development, and quantitative analysis. I am also involved in Arkansas Farm Bureau Young Farmers and Ranchers and FFA Alumni and Supporters.
Q: Is what you’re doing now what you always pictured you would do?
A: Growing up on my family’s small livestock farm and being involved in 4-H and FFA guided me towards a career in agriculture where I can serve others. I have been able to do this through my studies (bachelor’s in agricultural business from Southern Arkansas University and my master’s in agricultural economics from the University of Arkansas), serving as a state and national FFA president, teaching horseback riding and agriculture skills to youth at an orphanage in Mexico during a summer internship, interning in DC for a Congressman on the House Agriculture Committee, and interning with Arkansas Farm Bureau. My title or position may change throughout my life, but if I am working with people in agriculture, I know I am fulfilling my purpose.
Q: What do you see as the greatest challenges for women in your chosen industry? What are the greatest opportunities?
A: As a young agriculturalist just about to start my career in agriculture, the greatest challenge, but also opportunity, is the vast amount of opportunities available. The opportunities available can distract or take people in other directions from what they truly want to do. It takes discernment, patience, and guidance to navigate these opportunities and stay true to who you are.
Q: Who has inspired you in your life/career?
A: During my 8 years in 4-H, my 4-H agent, Leigh Helms-Blythe, poured into my life. She encouraged me to learn, lead, and speak – which set the foundation for where I am today. In 11th grade, she took me a Farm Bureau State Convention where I sat in on a policy update meeting and started to understand what I wanted to do in agriculture. She continues to support and encourage me today.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring professional?
A: Find what you love to do and what you do really well and pursue that. Knowing who you are will guide you to what to do. The best way to do this is to surround yourself with 1) people who will speak truth into your life and 2) time to understand who you are and become the best at it.
Q: What’s been your secret to success?
A: Stay humble and hungry. I try to surround myself with people who are thriving in their positions because they have found their purpose. They offer me advice, guidance, support, and mentorship. There is always more to learn and room to grow.