"Toward the end of high school I started doing some research, looking for major fields that aligned with my skills and interests. I enjoy learning cool facts (science, history, etc.) and eating food, plus "Food Science” sounds impressive and mysterious," Malcolm Brooks. Malcolm is a major in Food Science and hopes to change the world by giving hope. From his point of view, anyone can realize their potential with a full stomach, a role model and some dedication. Malcolm hopes to provide the first two in his career. Upon completion of his undergraduate degree, he hopes to jump into graduate school. His favorite part of the major is gaining the insight that the world around us, even something as simple as the food we eat, is infinitely more complex that we assume. Malcolm said, "Every time I learn something in class, it alters my perspective. It's like glimpsing into another universe." His most defining moment at MSU was when he was giving a presentation in Advanced Food Microbiology about how chewing gum flavors worked. He realized he was looking forward to answering questions and wasn't nervous because he knew the topic and was excited to share it with his peers. Malcolm has advice for students wishing to pursue a career in Food Science. "You will be hard-pressed to find a major that engages your curiosity the way food science does. You get a taste (pun intended) of everything, from physics to cultural anthropology. It gives you this profound appreciation for the tasty stuff you interact with, and it gives you the tools to change the world. You can't escape it; you're eating it every single day."
Callie Whitfield is an ambassador in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is a biochemistry major in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology. "I chose biochemistry because it seemed at the time to be the perfect major for an aspiring physician. After being here two years, I can say this is a great major for pre-medicine students," she said. Callie hopes to change the world as a physician and her next big step is applying to medical school. "While this process is overwhelming and daunting, it is also an exciting time for me! I cannot wait to see where MSU will lead me as I continue to pursue my career in medicine," she said. She said a defining moment occurred early in her college career. "When my mother and I came to State for orientation, we were both fearful and nervous while also excited. During those two days, though, we both grew confident that I had made the right college decision." Callie encourages potential students up for an exciting, fun challenge to explore the major.
Chrysta Beck is an ambassador in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is a poultry science major. "I hope to impact the world by carrying out research that will improve the poultry industry in some way. I want to help feed the world and make food less expensive and more accessible to everyone." she said. Upon graduation, she hopes to attend veterinary or graduate school. "I'm excited about the knowledge I will gain, the new experiences I will have, and the new friends I will make along the way," Chrysta said. Her favorite part of the poultry department is the size. "It feels like a family when you walk into the building, and the class sizes are small enough to ensure a hands-on experience with birds. Also, internships are easily attainable which allows for you to gain experience in the industry before beginning your career," she said. Chrysta chose to attend MSU when she was a senior in high school. "After visiting campus, talking with students, and visiting the poultry department, I knew this is where I wanted to be," she said. She tells potential students that even though MSU is a large university, it doesn't always feel that way. "Students, staff, and faculty here are friendly and welcoming. Since I'm from Ohio, it feels good to call MSU a second home. It is a university full of great people and plenty of opportunities for every student's future," she said.
Hannibal Brooks chose to major in food science because he loves food. He has found that the amount of science that goes into food production is incredible. Hannibal hopes to contribute to the stability of the global food supply. He also hopes to clear up misconceptions about how the industry operates. His long-term goal is to start a food technology company. For now, he plans to attend graduate school upon the completion of his undergraduate studies. Hannibal's favorite part of his major is the opportunity. "Labs where you get to make doughnuts are awesome - definitely a food science specific experience. I interned in Washington, D.C. I helped raise hundreds of chickens for a research trial. I got paid to consumer test a variety of foods. Those are just a few of the opportunities I've experienced," he said. For prospective students, Hannibal offers this advice. "This major opens the door to work in nearly any field - chemistry, microbiology, law, engineering, and more - and with the added benefit of delicious sustenance."
Nesbit senior Naomi Taylor participated in a study abroad in Malawi that provided the experience of a lifetime.
The daughter of William and Jeannie Taylor, she traveled to the southeastern African nation to work with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. An environmental economics and management major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, she helped the FAO assess the outcomes of irrigation techniques that had been introduced to small farmers in the wake of a 2005 drought.
"I knew I was making a difference by not only helping FAO, but the farmers in Malawi and all those who use their products," Taylor said.
The hands-on learning opportunity was made possible through MSU's International Institute and its Office of Study Abroad, with special assistance from study abroad coordinators Kristen Bloom and Anika Campbell, who are both passionate about seeing MSU students have global experiences.
While Malawian culture was different from anything she ever had seen, Taylor said it also was her favorite part of trip. During visits to various villages in the surrounding area, she was greeted with singers and dancers thanking her for the work she was doing.
"Living in a third-world country for three months was not a walk in the park," Taylor said. "However, the experiences I had there were indescribable."
She said a desire to be part of change that impacts the world helped set a long-term goal to become involved with environmental policy, beginning in the United States and expanding beyond its borders. After admitting that she doesn't "know what the future holds," Taylor added, "However, I do know that Malawi is not the only place that needs help."
At the conclusion of her internship, Taylor presented a 46-page report to NAO offices in the city of Kasunga and the Malawian capital of Lilongwe. Her research and analysis of food, security and nutrition of farms both with and without irrigation also was made available to her MSU faculty advisers.
"Mississippi State helped me help others around the world, and for that I will always be grateful, "Taylor said. "Without Dr. Randy Little and other professors at MSU, I never would have applied to be a candidate for FAO and given this wonderful opportunity."
Little is a professor agricultural economics.
Because the international experiences had been were more than she ever dreamed, Taylor said returning to the United States and MSU left her feeling "bittersweet." Nevertheless, she expressed excitement in seeing what her sophomore year has in store.
"When I was a senior in high school, I knew I had to come to Mississippi State," Taylor said. "Now, I cannot imagine what my life would be like without this amazing university filled with endless opportunities, like sending me to Africa."
Being a first-generation college student is challenging, but junior Shelbie Dalton couldn't be happier to be at Mississippi State University.
"I know that my parents are really proud of me," the agricultural information science/agricultural leadership major says.
Dalton says a discussion with human sciences assistant professor Gaea Hock at a Future Farmers of America-sponsored camp gave her very good guidance as she was planning her major and career path.
"Dr. Hock told me about AIS and said that it would be a perfect major for me," she recalls. "When I got involved with FFA and saw the opportunities with that, I decided I wanted to do something I love."
As a Mississippi FFA state sentinel, the Byhalia native and 74 other FFA officers from around the country traveled to South Africa in January as part of the organization's 2015 International Leadership Seminar for State Officers. The group spent two weeks experiencing local culture and developed a better understanding of international agriculture and the global marketplace.
Dalton says she felt well-prepared embarking on her first international trip, thanks to knowledge gained from MSU classes in agricultural issues and international agriculture. She also credits an FFA cultural diversity course she took.
"When I talk to someone or meet someone new, I try to put myself in their shoes and understand their problems and differences rather than point them out," she emphasizes. "The children there (in South Africa) were like our best friends, and they didn't even know who we were. They just wanted to see someone who cared for them and wanted to play with them."
Observing animals at a private game reserve and on local farms, enjoying a traditional 14-course meal and visiting former South African president Nelson Mandela's jail cell on Robben Island were among Dalton's favorite trip highlights.
"During the meal, a tribal leader taught us how to play the drums and, while we were eating, people there danced for us and painted our faces," she says. "We also had the opportunity to visit a carrot farm and pick carrots with the ladies who were there. They were so excited to have us working right alongside them."
"It was really cool to be a part of their culture," Dalton adds, with a smile.
Grateful for the mental and spiritual benefits the South African experience afforded her, Dalton says she came away with an even greater appreciation for food, water, and relationships. She also hopes to organize similar international agriculture mission trips for other students in FFA or agriculture-related fields.
Being involved in FFA and a student at MSU has "made me really want to be an advocate for agriculture and youth leadership," says Dalton, adding, "I'm excited to see where it takes me."
Caroline Kelsoe, a senior majoring in Environmental Economics and Management, is from Moody, Alabama. She says the people are what set CALS apart. “When I first visited campus as a prospective student, Dr. Little, the agricultural economics undergraduate coordinator and Dr. Turner, the agricultural economics department head said, ‘Welcome to the Bulldog Family!’ I was a little skeptical at first; after all, how could professors and students I only knew in class become a family? What I didn’t realize at the time is that there is so much more to CALS and the Department of Agricultural Economics than the time we spend in class. The people in CALS really have become family, and I’m so grateful for the time that has been invested in relationships both inside and outside of class.” Her most memorable experience in the college was an ice cream social held at the end of the spring semester in 2015. “Seeing all of the professors and students laughing together brought me so much joy!” She says she chose environmental economics and management because it blended key interests including public policy, economics and environmental science into a cohesive course of study that will prepare her for a wide range of careers. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in agricultural economics. In her free time, she loves to cook and try new recipes.
Turner Sanderson chose nutrition because he wants a career in fitness, health, or sports. Turner had the opportunity to shadow a local dietitian. Since then, he has since pursued a nutrition degree. He hopes to become a registered dietitian. Turner also has a personal connection to the major. At an early age, he struggled with obesity and was able to learn the importance of a healthy diet and exercise. For Turner, his favorite part of the major is the focus on food. "The students are great. The teachers are kind and helpful. We learn all about nutrients and the whole thing revolves around food," he said. He looks forward to the dietetic internship upon graduation. One of his most defining moments at MSU was the opportunity to work with the Sports Dietitian on campus as a student worker.
Jane Spivey Mortimer
Jane Spivey Mortimer has been in love with fashion since she was six years old. The fashion design and merchandising major says the fashion industry is ever changing and always exciting. She looks forward to being part of such a prestigious field. Her favorite part of the college is the diversity. "I have friends in human development and family studies, agronomy, agricultural information, pre-vet, and so much more that share the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with me." Her defining moment at MSU is the day she finished her first design. "I created the pattern, dyed the fabric, and altered the garment to fit perfectly and it made my dreams a reality," she said. To students considering this major at MSU, Jane advised them to get out of their comfort zone and meet the wonderful people in their major. "They are so different and you can learn so much from your friends in this major. The human sciences major at MSU has prepared me above and beyond my expectations for my future."
Anika Eidson chose Animal and Dairy Sciences as a major because its diversity of options. She knew that this major would give her the best opportunity for her future career. Anika wants to better understand cancer and treatment options in both animals and humans. She plans to become a veterinary oncologist and researcher. Anika appreciates the feeling of home that MSU provides. "It was my first football game at Davis Wade stadium against a SEC team and we played LSU. I have attended plenty of SEC games over the years, especially Auburn and Vanderbilt games. When I toured MSU, I had the same feeling, but it never hit home until that day. I felt so at home. We were family from the second bully came out to the end of the Alma Mater. We were family before the game started and long after the game ended. We lost that game, but had I not been there to see the score, I would have had no clue. Since that day, I cherish the atmosphere we have at MSU every day and I know that we are a family no matter what happens." Anika defines her experience in the department as hands-on and much more than she expected. "The faculty and staff are always there to support you and they never want to see you fail. The experience and knowledge I have gained, in my opinion, is second to none."
Hunter Brown chose biochemistry as a major because she hopes to attend medical school one day. "I hope to change the world with my future research in the medical field. I hope to find better treatment options for people struggling with medical complications." That passion for research is one of her favorite things about the major. "There have been various opportunities to learn outside of the classroom, like lab research. The CALS staff is also incredibly helpful." Hunter said being a CALS Ambassador is an exciting opportunity that goes beyond academics. "I came to MSU to better myself as a person and influence the lives of others in different settings." She encourages future biochemistry majors to take that next step. "For the students considering this major at MSU, I would say go for it even if you aren't 100 percent sure. At one point I was also in the same position and I have no regrets about my decision. This major has plenty of opportunities. While it takes a lot of hard work and effort, the results are worth it. I believe this major offers many chances to advance your skills no matter what path you choose."
Janiece Pigg chose Animal and Dairy Sciences because she grew up around dairy cattle. Her neighbors owned and management a dairy farm and she spent a great deal of time at their farm. She joined 4-H because of that interest. In 4-H, she participated in Dairy Bowl, judging, showing, and National Congress. "4-H expanded my knowledge of agriculture and more specifically the dairy industry," she said. Janiece is an agricultural ambassador, hoping to teach consumers about how food gets from farm to table. Her favorite part of the major is the hands-on aspect of the curricula. "Students don't just sit in the classroom and memorize facts. We are in the lab and at the farm learning how the industry will be once we leave MSU," she said. Janiece is excited about the future. She tells potential students to be prepared for the hardest, yet most fun and rewarding ride of their lives. "There are so many chances to get involved within the Department of Animal Dairy Sciences. There are so many paths you can take with this major. You can go as far you want in ADS. The faculty and staff will give you everything you need to succeed. It will be up to you to make something that is already good into something ten times better." After graduation, Janiece plans to work in dairy production management. She would also like to own and manage her own farm one day.
Kate Parsons majored in Animal and Dairy Sciences to prepare for veterinary school. She also saw it as a chance to step outside of her comfort zone. Kate had no previous experience working on a farm with livestock. Now, MSU's H.H. Leveck Animal Research Center feels like home. After veterinary school, Kate would like to work in developing countries and share her passion for knowledge of animals. During her undergraduate years, she hopes to volunteer and intern at vet clinics, animal shelters, or zoos. Her favorite part of the major is the hands-on experience through clubs and labs. Her most defining moment during her college career was the Little International Livestock Show hosted by Block and Bridle. "I had never even gone to a livestock show, and now I was in one! It was a great experience where I met my best friends." Kate encourages potential students to go for it. "The faculty is amazing, the classes are interesting, and the students work hard. Animal and Dairy Sciences has so much more to offer than just an avenue for veterinary school. MSU offers many opportunities for students to succeed in this major, college, and university," Kate said.
Human Sciences major Beth Baugh enjoys all the opportunities the major offers. "There are so many clubs and volunteer opportunities open to students. It gives everyone a chance to find where they feel most at home," Beth said. She is most excited to apply to occupational therapy school after graduation. "The major covers such a broad spectrum of topics and fields. It gave me the space to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life." She was previously in a major that wasn't a fit. When she shifted to human sciences, she began enjoying classes. She also got involved with various organizations. For prospective students, Beth says that there is a sense of being at home at MSU. "I would recommend MSU to anyone considering a career in the field of Human Sciences," Beth said.
Jackson Tuebert fell into Agribusiness. He actually had no preconceived notions about the major but has found it to be great. "It was purely by chance that I found a major that I am so passionate about. With such a close-knit department, I feel like I have the support I need. This experience will prepare me for any challenge or opportunity ahead," Jackson said. He is passionate about combatting global hunger with his future plans to be a farmer. "I plan to make the most of every dollar, every acre, and every hour of my life to feed a growing population," he said. Jackson is interning in Colorado this summer and excited about the unknown possibilities. His favorite facets of agricultural economics are the friendships forged out of shared hardship. "These classes are far from easy. It pushes students to rely on each other to complete assignments, build projects, and prepare for exams. I believe the best of friends will look back and go 'Wow…we made it,' " Jackson said. His proudest moment at MSU came with the National Agri-Marketing Association team. The team had never made it out of the first round of a national competition. They made it to the semi-finals the first year that he was a speaker for the group. "It was exciting to be a fundamental part in helping MSU gain a national presence at such a competitive event," he said. Jackson advises prospective student to embrace the challenge of the major. "Trust the faculty, college, and entire university. They have your best interest in mind and will stop at nothing to see you succeed in whatever your calling may be. If you want to be a part of something bigger than yourself and be prepared for the challenges of the future, this major will undoubtedly fit the bill," Jackson said.
Gianna Ciotoli has a passion for agriculture and animals. That's why she chose the animal and dairy sciences major, pre-veterinary concentration. She hopes to one day become a large animal veterinarian. "Agriculture is our wisest pursuit and it will always be needed for survival," she said. Gianna wants to contribute to improved animal welfare in animal production. She hopes to inspire future generations. "I would like to show how rewarding the agriculture industry can be," she said. Upon graduation, Gianna hopes to attend vet school. "Since I was three-years-old I have had a passion for animals. I have always wanted to be a veterinarian. It is a big step that I have worked for my whole life so far. I am excited to see where my future takes me," she said. Her favorite part of the college and major is the close-knit group that she calls family. "Everyone is friendly and approachable. The professors are incredible and genuinely care about their students," she said. She also appreciates the hands-on experience. "You work with all sorts of animals and you learn things that you will carry with you forever," Gianna said. As an out-of-state student from Tampa, Florida, Gianna had concerns about being so far from home. "A defining moment for me was finally feeling comfortable and like I belonged. My ADS major really helped me with that. Once I started taking ADS classes, I met amazing people that made me feel like I was at home. A sense of belonging is crucial to a student in college and I thank my major for that feeling," she said. Gianna also provides prospective students with good advice. "I would tell students that it was the best decision I have ever made. If you want a future in agriculture, it will be your best decision, too. My major has amazing professors, personable class sizes, and offers hands-on experiences. The clubs and organizations within the department are rewarding. There are countless opportunities to get involved. If you are looking for a family inside your major, this is definitely the program for you," she said.
Hannah Berny always loved agriculture. That's why she chose to major in agricultural economics. "I was active in 4-H growing up. Because of 4-H, agriculture will always have a special place in my heart," Hannah said. She chose this major because of the wide range of options available upon graduation. Hannah is concentrating in policy and law which provides many opportunities. She plans to attend law school upon graduation. She says the chance to learn from some of the most amazing professors and staff is the best part of the major. "I can't express just how much my professors and advisors have made an impact on my undergraduate career, and even more so on what my future holds. Each one of them has been an integral part of my success as an undergrad. They are all cheering me on to achieve greatness in every aspect of my life. I am so blessed to have each one of them," Hannah said. Hannah’s most defining moment at MSU was when the bulldogs beat Auburn in 2014. The game resulted in the football team holding on to their undefeated record. "There was a collective feeling of absolute joy in the air. Rain was pouring, but nobody cared anymore. And as the rain came down, we rang our cowbells and sang 'Don't Stop Believing' until we lost our voices. In that moment, I took a mental snapshot, because I knew I would never want to forget that feeling. It was an overwhelming feeling of family. Even though I was miles from my own family, I had a family right there in Davis Wade stadium. They loved what I loved and felt what I felt. In that moment I knew I was part of something special." For prospective students, Hannah offers this advice, "If you want to be a part of an amazing college, department, and major, made up of the most amazing leaders that MSU has to offer, do it. Agribusiness majors are not just farmers in training. While they can be farmers, they can also be future entrepreneurs, legislators, economists, local leaders, lawyers, leaders of large corporations, marketing specialists, advocates for change in world hunger, and even president of a university. (Yes, Dr. Keenum was an agribusiness policy and law major) and more! I just can't express how wonderful it is to be an agribusiness major!"
Anna Bailey Britt
Anna Bailey Britt wants to attend medical school. She selected the biochemistry major to get ready for this next step. She knew the diverse curriculum would prepare her well for the MCAT and medical school. "A biochemistry degree gives you many different opportunities career-wise. I knew that if I chose not to go to medical school that I would have plenty of other options for a career that I loved. It's a great science major that is both challenging and rewarding," Anna Bailey said. She hopes to provide healthcare and healthcare education to Mississippians all across the state. Her favorite part of the major is the people she interacts with daily. "We often struggle together, laugh together, and have grown close throughout our four years. I wouldn't have made it this far without the support of my fellow biochemistry majors," Anna Bailey said. She is part of an elite group of students who work as undergraduate research scholars. "A defining moment for me at Mississippi State was joining an undergraduate research lab. It is such a great opportunity for undergraduates. I am very blessed to have a great mentor and wonderful people to work around. I highly recommend all undergraduates to go out and find and get involved in something that interests you," she said. For prospective students, Anna Bailey offers this advice, "If you want a major that will challenge you academically and reward you with great classmates and teachers, then a biochemistry degree is for you. Whether you're interested in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, criminal justice, and more, a biochemistry degree will prepare you for wherever life takes you."
Celia Andreo chose to major in food science with a concentration in nutrition because she has a passion for healthy living. She plans on having a career that allows her to interact with and help others. For these reasons, nutrition is a perfect fit. "Hunger is too prevalent in our community and all over the world. I hope to work with the low-resource community in combatting poverty and food insecurity. I would love to see a day when food pantries are no longer necessary," Celia said. Upon graduation, Celia hopes to complete a dietetic internship, work towards a master's degree, and earn her Registered Dietician license. A defining moment for Celia was when she decided to major in nutrition. "We had a guest speaker from Gatorade who worked as a sports nutritionist. After 45 minutes, I was so captivated by his lecture that I changed my major to nutrition within the next week," Celia said. She also has a word of advice for potential students. "The major asks a lot of you, but the more you give, the better off you'll be. Get involved and get to know your teachers," she said.
Caitlin Light has always loved animals. That's why she chose Animal and Dairy Sciences. She hopes to attend veterinary school one day. She selected the ADS major because of the department's hands-on approach. And hands-on it has been. This summer she interns at the Carolina Forest Veterinary Hospital in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She works alongside veterinarians each day in a clinical environment. She said she loves the atmosphere and embracing new challenges. "It's been an adjustment shifting gears and stepping out of my comfort zone. I may think something should be done one way. This experience opened my eyes to all the different solutions there are to a single problem." The experience has allowed Caitlin to see how different clinics are managed. "It has been an amazing opportunity. Working for a larger practice, I see how they perform certain tasks and procedures compared to smaller clinics," she said. Caitlin attributes her professionalism and passion to the animal and dairy science faculty at MSU. "They have guided me through this process. MSU has instilled in me so many different values and life lessons that I apply everywhere I go," she said.
Olivia Lewis has a double major in horticulture and business administration. Her horticulture concentration is floral management. This summer she is an intern for Central Mississippi Wholesale Florist in Jackson. Olivia enjoys the wide variety of daily tasks and the people she works with. She's learned organization and communication are key components to success in business. Fortunately, Olivia was well prepared for her internship through her studies at MSU. "Skills I have learned at MSU helped me recognize the plant materials easier. It also gave me a good background of how the floral industry is managed," Olivia said. She has enjoyed the wholesale side of flowers and hopes to pursue this as a career. "I have always enjoyed working with flowers and also like business. My undergraduate education prepares me for both," she said.
Julia Putt is following in her mother's footsteps in floral management. Julia is a horticulture major with a concentration in floral management. She grew up around flowers. Her parents own a special events company, and her mother is an alumna of the program. Julia is spending this summer in Nashville working for Buds and Bunches. She uses design techniques that she learned at MSU to arrange flowers for the company. "I love Nashville and one of our family friends knew a guy that was a floral designer here. He is the only florist located downtown so it has been cool getting to help with designs for the big hotels in downtown Nashville." Julia's experience has shown her different aspects of how a business is run. The experience has been incredible for the budding florist. "It's not only the experience to grow in my design work but moving away from home into a big new city has made me grow up a good bit. If you ever get the opportunity to go out and intern… go. Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone, because you will learn a lot about yourself," Julia said.
Both of Jessica Smith’s parents were born and raised on a farm. "At a young age, I developed a passion for farming, 4-H, and Future Farmers of America. I want to pursue a career in an industry that I love and a field that feeds the world." She chose to major in agriculture information science with a communications concentration. She wants to educate the public about the importance of agriculture. She hopes to change the world as a strong advocate for the agriculture industry. She hopes to pursue a master's and possibly a doctoral degree one day. "In the future, I could see myself working for MSU Extension, Farm Bureau, or the Mississippi or U.S. Department of Agriculture. The unknown excites me most." Her favorite part of the major is the varied subject matter. "One day I’ll learn about the current issues farmers face. The next day I'll learn how to conduct a television interview." Her favorite campus memory was when the MSU football team played Auburn in the fall of 2014. "The clouds started rolling in during the fourth quarter. It began to drizzle and then the bottom fell out. I expected fans to rush to leave or huddle under the ramps. Instead, all the fans stayed put on their feet and cheered the bulldogs to victory. That's when I fell in love with MSU and knew it was the place for me." She encourages prospective students who have a passion for telling the story of agriculture to explore the major. "Communications in agriculture is a growing field, and there is a broad range of jobs in Mississippi and across the country that need you!"
Matthew Clem has a lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian. He is currently pursuing that dream by majoring in animal and dairy sciences. "This major offered so many hands-on opportunities from the start. That's what intrigued me the most," Matthew said. He also likes that classes are small enough that the teachers get to know the students personally. His defining moment at MSU was his first animal science class, primarily conducted at the H.H. Leveck Animal Research Center. "It was this class that made me realize I had chosen the correct university and program of study for my college career," Matthew said. He also has a word for potential students. “This major isn’t just for future vet students. Graduates can pursue many other career paths. Also, the professors truly care about students and want them to succeed," he said.
Dorothy Cottonham is animal and dairy sciences major. Her friends call her DeeDee and she's always had a love for animals. She hopes to become a vet one day. This summer, she cares for sows and their growing piglets. "I took an academic course called swine science taught by Professor Shengfa Liao. This course taught me about pigs and their behavior." After that, she earned a paid internship at a swine breeding farm in West Point. "The experience is valuable even though I don't plan to pursue a career in the industry. I see several aspects of the industry and have the chance to work with some great people. The swine industry would not be as successful as it is without its dedicated employees."
Meagan Johnson enjoys working with all types of animals, including wildlife. The animal and dairy sciences major is interning in Florida this summer. She interns with the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge. Meagan splits her time between the refuge, located in Fort Walton Beach, and the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge Zoological Park in Crestview. She says her work at MSU has helped her succeed. "I've learned a few tips about professionalism while at MSU that have helped me be successful during this internship," Meagan said. Meagan plans to pursue a career as a veterinarian and says her internship and major will definitely help her advance. She chose the internship so that she could work with a variety of animals.
John-Taylor Corley chose landscape architecture as a major because it combined his two passions: nature and design. "Growing up on a farm, I stayed outdoors a fair amount. I feel that this made me appreciate the beauty of nature." He hopes to have a positive impact in the world through his design. "That might be as something as big as designing an environmental-friendly development, or something as small as improving someone's day by holding a door open." He said it is both scary and exciting to think about the next step he is taking in becoming a young professional. Right now, he says he's focused on building his skills as a landscape architect. He is preparing to apply to competitive internships across the country. "It's exciting for me to look ahead at the challenges that I face and be able to work on conquering them in a new and creative way," he says. John-Taylor's favorite part of the major is the creative freedom. "In the studio, we are assigned a project with criteria that must be met. We are allowed as much freedom on our projects as we want, as long as in the end we meet those criteria." His defining moment at MSU was the first day of class. He had transferred from Pearl River Community College. He moved 250 miles away from his family and didn't know anyone on campus. "That first day changed how I saw things. It allowed new friendships and a new level of confidence to emerge." He says MSU has shaped the person he is today. "Mississippi State has opened up so many great doors that led to amazing opportunities. Looking back two years later, I wouldn't change a thing about my decision to attend MSU."
Gracie Jackson is working this summer at AmericasMart in Atlanta, GA. The Fashion Design and Merchandising major has always been interested in fashion. It has been a source of inspiration and self-expression. She prefers the business side of the industry. That's why she is also majoring in business administration. She has enjoyed seeing how the different departments go into planning markets. "The final outcome seems so complex but the responsibilities are broken down to make it all possible," Gracie said. She credits teamwork and meeting deadlines as the skills learned at Mississippi State. She said these skills have been the most valuable in her internship. She has learned to be true to herself and her opinions during this time. Gracie has enjoyed interning for AmericasMart. "This is my first time moving to a big city on my own and experiencing a 9 am-5 pm job in a corporate workplace. It is fantastic," she said.
Brittany Franks is working with tigers, lions, and cougars during the summer of 2016. The Animal and Dairy Sciences major landed a job at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. She said that classes like companion animal have helped her during her internship. Brittany has always loved animals. She chose animal and dairy sciences because she wants a career where she can take care of animals and nurse them back to health. She chose Big Cat Rescue to gain experience working with different types of animals.
Bradley Welch chose biochemistry because he considered it a well-rounded premed major. He hopes to change lives as a medical practitioner one day. "As a future physician, I hope to change the world by making an individual difference in each of my patients' lives through providing thorough and compassionate healthcare." As a junior at MSU, he looks forward to acceptance into medical school. He said he appreciates the flexibility and interdisciplinary nature the major has afforded him. "In addition to the major, I was able to pursue minors in psychology and French." He chose to attend MSU because of the Rural Medical Scholars Program. He participated in the program the summer before his senior year of high school. "MSU felt like home and like family, and that's when I knew I was meant to go to college at MSU." He encourages potential students to consider biochemistry at MSU. "The faculty and staff are always there to help. On many occasions, I have stopped by Dr. Willeford's office for advice or just to chat. He's always willing to offer support and encouragement."
Victoria Clapp is an animal and dairy sciences major. She is spending the summer interning at a veterinary hospital. The Pet Hospitals-Collierville is an animal hospital with various locations throughout the Memphis area. Victoria is a veterinary assistant there this summer. "I love working in a field that involves daily interaction with animals. This opportunity gives me exposure to the job I want to have one day. I love animals and care about their owners. It's fulfilling to better the health of our little, or sometimes not so little, companions." Victoria said the interpersonal skills she's learned at MSU helped immensely in the internship. She said the biggest lesson has been realizing the importance of simply relating to people. "Whether interacting with coworkers or clients, it is much easier to work toward a goal when there is clear communication," she says. Victoria chose her major because she thought it would give her the most hands-on experience with animals. She also saw it as an opportunity to learn about the agriculture/livestock industry. She chose her internship because it is what she wants to pursue fulltime in the future. "I love this job and I enjoy the people I work with. I could see myself as a veterinarian even in this exact clinic one day."
Briana Burkes is interning at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. She is an animal and dairy sciences major at MSU. Her favorite part of the internship is getting to work up close and personal with tigers. She said she's learned how to keep her composure with the wild animals. "Working with larger animals is not so bad since I have experience working with cows at Mississippi State University. I have learned good hard work." Briana said the experience has been an eye-opener into the world of the sale of exotic animals. She chose her major because she enjoys working with animals. She chose the internship because she may one day want to work with exotic animals. She recommends the internship to future students. "There is so much to learn and it is just a great experience."
Sandra Sandlin is pursuing a horticulture degree at MSU. Her concentration is in floriculture and ornamentals. This summer, she is interning at the 4 Seasons Garden Center in Jasper, Alabama. She said the internship has taught her about managing a nursery. She is also learning proper ways to maintain and care for plants. "I love all the people that I work with, as well as all the new skills and knowledge that I have acquired," Sandra said. She said MSU has helped prepare her for the internship. "Classes like plant materials, greenhouse management, and ornamental turf insects have helped me." The internship has further prepared her for a field she hopes to pursue fulltime. "I love plants and like to grow things that people can enjoy."
Cassie Nicole Tabler is interning at the MSU Horse Unit. She is an animal and dairy sciences major. Her favorite part of the internship is being around the horses. She says MSU has prepared her well for her internship. "MSU taught me about operation management," Cassie says. She's been around livestock her entire life. That familiarity led to the selection of her major and her choice of internship. "I grew up on a horse farm and I wanted to see how another equine facility operates and learn from it." She says she looks forward to working with the colts after weaning. "I am excited to work on my training skills."
Phillip Lincoln Fairley
Phillip Lincoln Fairley is an agronomy major. His concentration is integrated pest management. This summer he is interning at Bunge North America in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The internship has offered insight into the agricultural industry. "I am enjoying learning about buying and selling large quantities of commodities, and how to handle them once they are in our possession." He said the internship has shown him a side of agriculture not many agronomists see. "It is interesting to see the big-picture journey of crops from the farmer to the consumer. I am learning more than I ever thought I would this summer and it’s only the fourth week so far."
Mallory McGuffee is an ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is a fashion merchandising major in the School of Human Sciences. "I chose this major because I would like to work with women who face the challenge of low self-esteem and self-confidence." She said the study of fashion can have a bigger impact than most people think. She said the element of surprise is what excited her most about her academic endeavors. "I have no idea where this course of study will lead me. Will it lead me to a big city where everyone is fashion forward? Will it lead me back to my hometown where I might open my own bridal boutique? Wherever the road takes me, I will surely be prepared based on my experience at Mississippi State University." Her favorite part of the major is that the department offers many opportunities for exposure to the many facets of the industry. "There are so many learning and networking opportunities that range from study tours to the introduction of department store executives at student meet and greets. Additionally, the National Retail Federation Student Association also actively pursues prospective guest speakers, tours, and events to broaden the horizons of its membership." Her most meaningful moment at MSU was working on her end of the year project in Product Development II. "As I was beginning to have reservations and doubt myself, my peers voted my project as the winner of the project showcase. Having my fellow students validate my hard work really made a lasting impression and has only served to inspire me to be my best self." She also discussed the challenges of the major. "I have had to work harder and dig deeper and really push myself to be more creative than I ever thought I could be. I have found this coursework to be exciting, terrifying, and challenging, and I would encourage those considering this course of study to commit to this program and to the university. Do not be afraid of hard work. Learn from the best so that you can be the best!"
Zach Ishee is an ambassador in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. He is an agricultural economics major. "I chose this major because my father and grandfather. They both earned undergraduate degrees from the agricultural economics department," he said. He said the comradery is his favorite aspect of the major. "The agribusiness major here is really close-knit. You’ll make friends in and outside of class. The faculty and staff are helpful and caring. Students get the individual attention that they need." He said he felt he came into his own his sophomore year. "I realized some more specific life goals I have for myself, and also branched out into other areas too." He looks forward to all the opportunities ahead like internships and possibly graduate school.
Katherine Alesa Taylor
Katherine Alesa Taylor is studying food science and nutrition at MSU. She is interning with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service's Office of Strategic Initiatives. She said she loves the networking opportunities that the internship provides. She also said her time at MSU has helped her acclimate quickly to her working environment. She said the internship in Washington, D.C., has helped broaden her horizons. "I chose this internship because it gave me an opportunity to travel and network outside of my comfort zone." She said she chose the major because it combined food and science, two passions for her. "I will be able to help people through doing what I love."
Katie Kelly, fashion merchandising major, is interning at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort in Destin, Florida. She works at the three retail stores onsite. Last summer, she worked as a seasonal retail sales associate at the resort. She loved it so much she came back this year to complete her internship. Her favorite part of the internship is the location. "I also love the brands we carry in our stores and the opportunities we have to work with each brand." She said her professors and instructors at MSU have prepared her for the internship. "Everything is going great and I'm still learning a lot. I can't wait to take everything I'm learning back to MSU in the fall and continue building my knowledge of fashion merchandising." She said the biggest lesson has been the amount of hard work that goes into keeping the stores running smoothly. "I have learned so far that running three stores is very hard work and working as a team with all of my coworkers is the only answer to all of the madness that goes on from open to close," she said. She chose her major because she's passionate about fashion merchandising. "I know that my future job will be something I love doing. The opportunities out in the world for my major are endless!" she said.
Michael Davis is an integrated pest management major in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. This summer, he is interning under the direction of Darrin Dodds, associate research and extension professor and cotton specialist at MSU. During his internship, Michael travels with Dodd's team all over the state. They plant different cotton varieties and conduct research. "It is very interesting to look at how each variety grows in different areas," he said. He said his time at MSU has helped him prepare for his internship. "We spray the crop with different chemicals such as herbicides for grasses and pesticides for pest. The weed and chemical classes that I have taken at MSU has helped me tremendously in the field," he said. Michael chose his major and internship because he hopes to be a crop consultant one day. "Scouting crops for farmers has been something I have wanted to do for most of my life," he said.
Joseph Hreish is an ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is a biochemistry major in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology. "I hope to practice medicine in a way that truly benefits the people I am serving," he said. He’s excited about beginning the process of applying to medical school. "Being a physician is something I am passionate about and I cannot wait to see everything come together," he said. He appreciates the close-knit family feeling between faculty and students within the major. "Regardless of being in rather large classes at times, it's evident that we all have the same end goal in mind," Joseph said. He said this major is ideal for students looking for a new experience. "With this major there is a lot of diversity not only in the classes that you will be taking but also in the people you will be interacting with. If you want to meet new people and have new experiences, this is the major for you," he said.
Calla Ziegler is an ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Calla chose nutrition as a major because she has always been fascinated with food. She also sees how the field can have a large impact on how people live their lives. "By being a nutrition major, I hope to change the world by changing the way people view healthy foods. Healthy eating can prevent chronic disease and improve quality of life," she said. She plans to apply to dietetic internships and graduate school. "I'm excited about these next steps. They will bring me closer to my goal of becoming a registered dietitian." Her favorite part of the major is learning about nutrition and science. "It's rewarding to discover how science interacts with the composition of food." She recommends the program for prospective students interested in majoring in nutrition. "The staff and fellow students are incredible. It is a smaller major. You connect with professors and get to know them on a personal level. The interesting and challenging classes help prepare you for the dietetic internship process. I've also met many of my closest friends within my major and I know we will be friends for life," she said.
Dara McCluskey is studying fashion design and merchandising at MSU. She's spending her summer in New York City working for the Rialto Jean Project. It's an eco-friendly philanthropic denim brand. The brand's proceeds go to children's art therapy. "The thing I like most about my internship is that I have a boss who lets me dabble in every aspect of the company. I've already learned so much and I'm getting such a broad range of experiences." She chose the internship because she wanted to be in a small environment under a large company. "It's a small storefront and large brand. It combines the fast pace and industry involvement of a large company with more responsibility and attention."
Elizabeth Biddle is a human sciences major with a concentration in fashion design and merchandising. She is interning at Nordstrom in St. Louis, Missouri. "I love that I feel like I'm part of the Nordstrom family by being an employee. You can really tell that the company values every employee," she said. Elizabeth said being friendly and curious will get you to great places. "I helped a woman one day and it turned out she was a former fashion director at Saks. She even asked for my business card because I helped her find a dress for a cocktail party." Elizabeth said she chose the major because her mom had nine siblings growing up and always wore hand-me-downs or made her own clothing. "Since I'm an only child she spoiled me with tons of clothes growing up. When I was in high school all my friends would come over and ask to borrow clothes or help them pick something out at the mall. When I learned that you could actually major in fashion and merchandising I knew that's what I was meant to do! I’ve always dreamed of working for a luxury retailer." She said her dream job is working at the first retail Nordstrom in New York City, set to open the year she graduates. She has advice for students seeking internships. She sought the highly competitive Nordstrom internship. "I started applying 6 months in advance. Don’t put off applying for an internship just because the application process can be long. The early bird gets the worm!"
Winn Kent is interning at the Country Club of Jackson this summer. He is studying turfgrass at Mississippi State. "The Country Club of Jackson is a great working environment. I have plenty of opportunities to learn and advance my knowledge," he said. Winn said MSU has provided a knowledge base that’s proved beneficial in his internship. "MSU has given me the resources and knowledge I need to work for a golf course like the Country Club of Jackson," he said. Winn chose the major because he loves working outdoors. "I take pride in making athletic fields and golf course beautiful for the athletes," he said. The best part of the major for Winn has been the amazing staff, professors, and students. "Everyone works well with each other and is very friendly."
Andrew House is an ambassador in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is also a member of the Dean's Council. He is a double major in biochemistry and wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture. "I originally wanted to go to vet school and I knew I enjoyed biology and chemistry. Instead, I became involved in research. After that, I decided to double major with biochemistry and wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture," he said. Upon graduation, Andrew plans to attend graduate school. "At this moment the part that excites me the most is that I have no idea where I will attend graduate school. It could be anywhere doing almost anything," he said. His favorite part of each major is the faculty. "I love being surrounded by professors that care about the students. They have ended up being mentors and playing major parts of my life," he said. Andrew highlights involvement in student organizations, undergraduate research, and making lifelong friends as contributing to a great experience at MSU. He encourages potential students to follow their hearts. "When people say you can do whatever you want with your life, they aren’t kidding. Allow yourself to make new friends, do things outside of your comfort zone, and your ideas will be diversified," he said.
Colton Jones is an undergraduate research scholar in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences. He is studying fraze mowing. This technology was developed in Europe. It's used to resurface athletic fields with greater efficiency. U.S. turf managers are using it on cool and warm season grass fields. Most athletic fields in the Southern U.S. are warm-season grasses like bermudagrass. Little is known about fraze mowing time and depth on this type of field. Jones is trying to determine the optimal timing for fraze mowing. He is also trying to model recovery time using growing degree days and light quantity on warm-season grasses like bermudagrass and ryegrass.
Sarah McNair is an undergraduate research scholar in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences. She sought to determine if delaying timed artificial insemination and the second injection of gonadotropin releasing hormone in an estrus synchronization protocol, or both would increase pregnancy rates in nonestrous suckled beef cows. Fifty five beef cows at MSU's beef unit were administered an estrus synchronization protocol. Those that exhibited signs of standing estrus, as detected by an activated heat detection patch, were designated as the control group and were artificially inseminated at the normal time, 60 hours after receiving prostaglandin F2a. Those not detected were then randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatments: early administration of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) and early artificial insemination (60 hours), early GnRH/delayed artificial insemination (GnRH received at 60 hours and artificial insemination at 75 hours), or delayed GnRH/delayed artificial insemination (75 hours). Pregnancy was determined 35 days later via ultrasonography. Treatments did not impact pregnancy rates. Sire affected pregnancy rates with bulls A and B achieving 100% while bull C achieved 56.3% and bull D achieved 26.5%. There was also a difference between artificial insemination technicians with technician A achieving 63.3% and technician B achieving 16.0% pregnant. Body condition score, parity, and days postpartum did not affect pregnancy rates. Therefore, delaying GnRH and/or artificial insemination in cows that did not exhibit standing estrus, did not impact pregnancy rates to AI.
Sydney Peek is an ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She is an animal and dairy sciences major. "I chose this major because I have always had a passion for working with animals. I also have a lifelong interest in veterinary medicine," she said. Sydney's goal is to work with animal owners and teach them positive care habits. She is most excited about the hands-on experience the major offers. She also appreciates the faculty and staff in the department. "People are always willing to lend a helping hand and help me in my career path," she said. Her defining moment at MSU came early during Eminent Scholars Day in 2014. That's when she knew Mississippi State University would be her future home. "Mississippi State University offers extensive hands-on learning opportunities. The university engages with its students in a way that best ensures their success," she said.
Abby Jenkins is studying floral management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Mississippi State. She spent summers in high school working for a local flower shop. There she discovered her passion for flowers and went on to MSU to prepare for a career in the floral industry. She wanted to learn more about the wholesale side of the business. She reached out to Greenleaf Wholesale Florist in Tupelo, Mississippi. She is spending the summer interning there. "My internship is the perfect combination of business, flowers and customer service," she said. Abby credits MSU for helping prepare her for the internship. "I've used knowledge from my courses every day in my internship. Working in a real life setting lets me see things I have learned in class come to life," she said. Abby said her time at MSU and the internship have provided a big-picture view of the industry. "Our professors always make a point to teach the chain of flowers from farm to finish. Working in a wholesale environment, I see all the moving parts it takes to get our flowers. The lesson I have gained from this is to not take things for granted. Something as simple as buying flowers in a grocery required a lot of work and time to get there."
Anne Larrah Johnson
Anne Larrah Johnson loves science and biochemistry sounded like an exciting combination of her two favorite subjects in high schools. She is majoring in the subject at MSU. She also serves an ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "Biochemistry is awesome. I take multiple science courses each semester. It can be challenging but I wouldn't have it any other way," she said. She hopes to change the world as a dentist or physician one day. "I hope that I can lead by example and influence others by my actions," she said. Anne Larrah is excited to graduate from MSU. "The fact that I'm over halfway finished with this journey and about to start applying to professional school just blows my mind. To hold a degree from Mississippi State University will be an incredible feeling. I will be so proud to become an alumna of the school I love so much," she said. Anne Larrah described the biochemistry major as an experience where everything builds on itself. "Almost every science course I take relates to the next. I continue to use and apply the information I learned. Studying becomes easier when something in one course explains something in another. It's almost like you're playing connect the dots," she said. Anne Larrah describes a dental mission trip to Los Guido in Costa Rica as a defining moment in her college career. "I was with fellow MSU students and an MSU alumnus on a dental mission trip. I saw how much of an impact you can make in another person's life just by doing something as simple as a tooth extraction. It made me think about my future and how blessed I was to be where I am today. Eventually, I hope to be like Dr. Byrd (the dentist on the trip) and use my skill sets to reach out and help others both physically and spiritually," she said. Anne Larrah encourages potential students to take the next step. "If science is your thing and understanding what makes up the world around you excites you, then this major is for you. Whether you are pre-professional or research based, biochemistry and molecular biology will prepare you for an exciting and rewarding career. It's a difficult choice for sure, but I wouldn't have it any other way. It's been a fantastic adventure and really pushed me to achieve more than I thought I could."
Benjamin Baker is a senior majoring in golf and sports turf management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He has a sports turf concentration. This summer he is interning at FNC Park in Oxford, Mississippi. "My classes have helped me accomplish everything I've been asked to do during my internship," he said. He grew up on a sod farm and when he started school at MSU he began working for sports turf and loved it. "I love Mississippi State. It feels like home. The people are friendly and nice. They make going to school and work really enjoyable."
Lauren Walters is an agricultural engineering technology and business major. She is in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She serves as a CALS ambassador. "I chose this major because it offers multiple concentrations and a wide variety of classes. The major covers the spectrum of agriculture." Lauren hopes to promote safety. "I plan to go into safety in an agricultural setting to decrease preventable casualties in the workplace," she said. Her favorite part of the major is the people. "I have built relationships with classmates, teachers and advisors alike. Everyone has been so helpful to me in my college adventure," she said. Lauren encourages all students to explore the major but points out that an agricultural background is not a requirement. "I didn't have an agricultural background. Don't be intimidated if it's something you've never been exposed to. This program is so inviting to everyone."
Suzanne Schultz chose agricultural leadership as a concentration in agricultural information systems in the School of Human Sciences. She is an ambassador for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "I grew up around agriculture but I didn't find my passion until I joined FFA in high school. I now see a vision of helping younger children develop a passion for agriculture sooner than I did. I want to show kids that agriculture is something that you can make your own. Whatever you see possible in this industry is something you can make happen," she said. Her favorite aspect of the major is the people. "Both faculty and my peers make every day at MSU an experience I will cherish through the years." She encourages anyone who wants to pursue a career in agriculture to explore the major. "Agricultural information systems as a major is so diverse. I hope new students will see the incredible opportunities this major affords."
I chose to study nutrition because I have always been fascinated by how what we eat affects our body’s performance.
I was chosen to be a William A. Demmer Scholar which consisted of spending a summer living in Washington, DC, working at a federal agency, taking a natural resource policy class, and participating in multiple educational outings throughout the week. I worked under Dr. Tameka Owens in the Office of Strategic Solutions at the United States Department of Agriculture: Food and Nutrition Service in Alexandria, VA.
During my internship, I worked with the Summer Food Service Program. I processed Success Stories and Best Practices from programs across the country and entered the data into a repository that is available to all USDA offices nation-wide. I also worked with Place-based Initiatives, specifically the Promise Zone Initiative that was put into place by the Obama Administration. The Promise Zone Initiative is a pilot program intended to bring multiple public service organizations together to increase the quality of life in needy cities throughout the nation. The USDA's focus with the Promise Zones was to incorporate various food assistance programs such as WIC, SNAP, and SNAP-Ed into the cities. My last month, I worked with Evidence-based Performance Management. I created infographics and interactive presentations to educate agency employees about the Agency's Fiscal Year Priorities.
Through the internship, I was better able to understand the role that the USDA will play in my future career as a Registered Dietitian. The exposure I had to other cultures and regions has been crucial in the development of my career goals and the networking that I was able to achieve will be indispensable once I enter the workforce.
While in DC the local chapter of Mississippians, also called "The Mississippi Mafia," held multiple mixer events that provided ample opportunity to meet and discuss careers with other Mississippians who have made their lives in the nation's capital. I truly enjoyed these opportunities because they made me feel at home in the big city and gave me encouragement that if they could make it in DC, I could too!
enior Jesse Newton of Eupora really did not expect a response when emailing Iva Ksenevich, whom he had been following on Instagram.
According to the Mississippi State human sciences/fashion design and merchandising major, only in his wildest dreams would the international haute couture hat designer respond to his inquiry - then offer a six-week internship to study millinery with her in Moscow, Russia.
Ksenevich's creations are world-renowned for their feather, trim, beadwork and small-detail embellishments. For more, see www.ivaksenevich.com/aboutiva
"When I reached out to her, I just assumed she was in New York; I hadn't even looked," the university Dean's List Scholar said. "She told me I'd need a Russian visa in order to work for her."
Undertaking a summer travel and study experience more than 5,500 miles from home clearly was driven by this most-unexpected opportunity. Even though he "probably won't go into hat making when I graduate," Newton said he knew working with Ksenevich could help him develop the intricate skills needed for a successful career.
"I'm not as detail-oriented as I'd really like to be, so having more experience hand sewing, beading and working with very small, intricate things are helping my design process," he said.
The stay in Russia's capital involved 10-hour workdays during which Newton hand sewed hats, and even a few gowns. Afterwards, he often joined another intern to take in sites of the major world city. One night, just because they could, "my roommate and I sat outside the Russian ballet and ate popcorn."
There also was a good amount of alone time, some of which Newton filled by eating breakfast in Red Square each workday. "Really, though, after a full day sometimes I just went home and watched Netflix. It's incredibly satisfying to hear your native tongue when you've been listening to a foreign language all day."
In addition to honing his skill sets, Newton said learning to develop a strong sense of design independence was an unexpected internship benefit. The impulse to second-guess his work and a need to constantly ask if things are being done correctly quickly became non-issues as Ksenevich taught him to trust his instincts and common sense.
Newton remains challenged to accept the reality of it all. "We were doing photoshoots and sending lookbooks off to places like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. I still can't believe she said yes to me. It definitely taught me not to be afraid to ask; the worst she could have said was no.
"Instead, I got the opportunity of a lifetime from it."