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Discovering Passion and Purpose Through Extension

If you’re a student at NC State, you likely understand the importance of doing internships and seizing the work experience they offer. For some, it helps them figure out their career path, while for others, it reveals they don’t want the career they thought they did. A few fortunate individuals discover a career they genuinely love, which becomes their pursuit after graduation. Ivelisse Colon, a Master’s student studying Youth, Family, and Community Sciences (YFCS) who will graduate this December, is one such lucky person.

After earning her bachelor’s degree and during a nutrition and dietetics internship, Colon worked with a nutritionist in Extension. This internship exposed them to the work they now adore. Upon moving to the continental United States, Colon decided to commit herself to serving people through Extension’s family and consumer science services. She chose to pursue a master’s in YFCS after taking undergraduate classes related to youth development and family life. Colon enjoyed gaining insights into modern society and family dynamics, as well as assisting families in improving their lives. As an NC State student, Colon has learned about the complexities of family life. These experiences have reinforced her desire to work as a family and consumer sciences professional, not only in the community but also as a developer of more effective learning programs for the families they serve.

In addition to being a Master’s student, Colon currently works as a Family and Consumer Sciences agent for N.C. Cooperative Extension. Her role involves providing non-formal education to individuals, children, families, and businesses on topics like food safety, healthy eating, and healthy living. This work is done in collaboration with other Extension agents in their county office, throughout the district, and the state. N.C. Cooperative Extension’s mission is to share research from land grant universities (NC State and NC A&T) with communities across the state, using practical methods to enhance their lives.

Colon teaching adults on kitchen skills

When asked about standout faculty, staff, or peers at NC State, Colon replied, “This is a challenging question for me. I believe I learn from all professors, staff, and peers, regardless of whether I like them or find them difficult. My professors saw the leader and counselor in me that I couldn’t see myself.” In times of confusion and difficulty, Colon had supportive faculty members who offered valuable guidance and understanding. When plagued by doubt, her advisor helped her envision a future as a successful student and professional. “My experience as a YFCS graduate student has been a journey filled with care and respect, and I’m grateful to all my professors, staff, and fellow students for making it a great one!”

Colon is an active member and officer in various Extension organizations such as Vice President of Professional Development and Recognition in the North Carolina Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NCEAFCS), serves as President of the North Central District of the NCEAFCS, and is a member of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. Colon believes that informal education plays a crucial role in the social development of children, families, and communities, enhancing skills, offering alternatives, and strengthening relationships across generations. 

Colon’s parents, both government employees who dedicated themselves to serving others, have been their greatest source of inspiration. Colon’s mother was a government employee, and her father was a business manager. They instilled in Colon the belief that even small acts of kindness can make a significant difference in someone’s life at a particular moment. For Colon, this purpose is what she aims to fulfill in both her life and career.

Colon is committed to delivering non-formal education on nutrition to families and youth, in line with N.C. Cooperative Extension program’s mission. Recognizing the importance of informal education, Colon emphasizes, “This has been the impact of the work N.C. Cooperative Extension has been carried out for over a century, and I believe we need it now more than ever.”