Scholarship Winners Share Commitment to Agriculture's Future
For Uzoamaka Abana, the 2018 national winner at the master’s level, that spark was her grandmother’s self-sufficient farm in Nigeria. She recalls being fascinated as she watched crops bear fruit and livestock develop to provide meat. But as a young child visiting her grandmother’s village, she also developed a deep, personal understanding that agriculture could be challenging.
“My grandmother’s crops and animals did not do well at times, which inspired me to want to figure out why and how it could be done better,” Abana says.
Based on those formative experiences, Abana has decided to pursue a career in agriculture and help farmers be more productive, so they can provide food for their communities and the growing worldwide population. She is currently a graduate student in plant science at Tennessee State University.
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Williamson’s unique spark to pursue a career in agriculture was her family. She was raised in rural Minnesota, where her father and grandfather worked in the seeds business. They instilled in her a respect for the farmers who helped put food on her table.
While growing up, Williamson sought out leadership and volunteer opportunities to learn and grow within the agriculture industry. “The National FFA Organization has been a source of inspiration in choosing the direction of my future,” Williamson says. “My FFA journey has opened doors to opportunities as a student and is leading me to a promising future.”
In addition to this year’s two national scholarship winners, Syngenta awarded the fifth-annual Syngenta Agricultural Scholarship to five other regional winners in October. The scholarships will help bolster their academic and career aspirations. These students represent the future of the agriculture industry, and Syngenta is proud to support agricultural education through the scholarship program.
The winners of the regional scholarships at the master’s and bachelor’s levels are all promising students focused on careers in agriculture. Bachelor’s-level winners were Jake Johnson (Mississippi State University), Kayla Beechinor (Washington State University) and Dana Mulligan (Virginia Tech). At the master’s level, recipients were Alexa Davis (University of Nebraska–Lincoln) and Kaitlin Hadaway (Washington State University).
For these winners and all of the other 2018 applicants, the centerpiece of the scholarship application was an essay in which they told their personal stories of how they became #RootedinAg. Applicants described the event, person or moment in their lives that ignited their passion for agriculture and inspired them to pursue a career in the field. While all of the winners of the 2018 Syngenta Agricultural Scholarship found their way into agriculture along different paths, they all share the same lofty goal—to help feed the world.
Meeting Future Challenges
The global need for food is exploding, as the world’s population rises and available farmland diminishes, creating a vital challenge for the agriculture industry. Both Abana and Williamson say this challenge is part of what drew them into agriculture and inspires them to pursue careers in the field.
Abana will use her scholarship to complete her master’s degree, and she plans to be involved in agricultural extension services. In that role, she aspires to be a “dedicated and proactive member of a dynamic and highly motivated research team.”
Williamson will use the award to continue her degree with a long-term objective of solving the “problem of providing adequate food to feed the world.” In her scholarship essay, she writes, “I hope my career will contribute to meeting future food demands, making sure food supplies are safe and nutritious, creating safe farming environments, and providing jobs to those who have none.”
Past scholarship winners have found the award instrumental in furthering their studies and giving shape to their future career goals.
Abigail Han, the 2017 national bachelor’s scholarship recipient, says the award has enabled her to pursue opportunities without the added financial stress that internships and other activities can bring.
“Getting the scholarship changed my perspective of myself in this industry,” Han says. “It has empowered me to go out and find opportunities in this field that I wouldn’t have sought otherwise.”
“I hope my career will contribute to meeting future food demands, making sure food supplies are safe and nutritious, creating safe farming environments, and providing jobs to those who have none.”
After graduation, Han will return to Kansas to complete a yearlong research co-op with the Land Institute and then plans to pursue a doctorate in an agricultural-related field.
Aimee Uyehara, the 2017 master’s-level winner, is currently earning her doctorate in plant biology at the University of California, Riverside. She says the scholarship has given her the confidence boost and financial stability to pursue a higher degree and become a mentor, much like the professors who inspired her.
“I want to contribute to the field in the form of mentorship and provide research experience for undergraduate students,” Uyehara says.
Syngenta is proud to support these and other students’ continued education, as they help shape the future of the agriculture industry. For more information on how to apply for the 2019 Syngenta Agricultural Scholarship, visit www.syngentaus.com/scholarships.
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