Since high school I have grown a variety of tropical fruit including multiple varieties of banana, pineapple, jackfruit, lychee, papaya, cacao, coffee, and others. I currently live in the OSU research greenhouses which gives me the ability to explore the cultivation of a variety of tropical plants, and understanding the diversity of fruit around the world boggles my mind. In addition to my love for plants, I am also passionate about the world and its people, especially global development and food security. I have been a part of the International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences (IAAS) for 4 years now, and our local chapter (the OSU International Agriculture Club) has allowed me to learn about a variety of cultures around the world and how they practice agriculture. Having the ability to travel to different countries has helped to give me a global perspective.
Horticulture, once I learned about it, was a natural choice for me. As mentioned, in high school I started growing tropical plants, and through horticulture I knew that I could be more involved with a variety of food crops. I knew that it would bring me closer to helping reduce the impacts of global food insecurity. I knew that I wanted to study plants, and I knew I wanted an international perspective to my studies. A friend who had graduated from the University of Hawaii gave me the definitions of botany and horticulture that I needed to decide between them. "Botany..." he said, "is the study of how plants grow". "Horticulture..." he followed, "is the study of how to grow plants." With that definition, I knew I was more interested in the science behind growing plants, so I ended up choosing horticulture over botany.
International studies I came across after doing some research in high school about OSU. I contacted some advisors, and after meeting with them, it was clear that the International Degree would provide that international perspective that I craved.
Spending 10 weeks in Guatemala was a memorable and defining moment for me. I think it redefined my direction in international development, and I am still trying to figure out where I will go from here. After I returned, I published a blog about the trip. I realized the importance of being close to family and friends, so this is something I'll need to keep in mind when I am looking for international opportunities in the future. Every opportunity will give you some new perspectives, so it is critical that everyone take part in as many new opportunities as they can.
One of the most critical things that changed my outlook at OSU was being encouraged to go in every building that I could on campus. I haven't been able to go in every building on campus, but I have been in most of them. The key to this idea is to search for opportunities and be curious about subjects outside of your areas of current interest.