Since choosing CALS as her pathway to a career in plant breeding, senior Nashea Williams has studied abroad in Costa Rica and met Vice President Joe Biden.
She is the recipient of the Anne Fleming Coghill Endowed Scholarship, the Corn Grower’s Association of North Carolina Scholarship, the North Carolina Farmers State Alliance Scholarship and the North Carolina Small Grain Growers Association Annual Scholarship.
What is your career goal?
My ultimate goal is to work in the field of plant breeding and help identify novel traits in crops for increased yield, insect and disease resistance, and tolerance to adverse environmental conditions like drought.
My journey to this career aspiration was a direct result of my childhood. I learned about genetics in seventh grade, and from that moment on, I knew I had to have a career that incorporated this science. By the time I reached high school, I had learned how genetics and biotechnology play a major role in agriculture. Although I did not grow up on a farm, I grew up in a rural community where farming played a major role in the economy, so working in agriculture seemed like a natural fit. Plant breeding combines my love for science and my appreciation for agronomy.
Why did you choose CALS?
Because of the diversity of majors within the college. People often only think “farming” when they hear the word agriculture, but CALS shows that agriculture encompasses a plethora of disciplines…teachers, scientists, even business owners. This appealed to a student like me who didn’t have a background in agriculture, but a hunger to learn.
What are you working on?
For the past year, I have been doing an internship with Bayer CropScience in soybean breeding to gain experience in my field of interest. I will be graduating in spring 2017 and I plan to continue to pursue my career goals by going to graduate school to study plant breeding and genetics. I’m starting with my master’s, but I have aspirations to one day obtain a doctoral degree.
What have you learned at CALS that you’ll take with you when you graduate?
As a student in CALS, I have learned the importance of networking and forming genuine relationships. So many doors have opened for me because I took the time to get to know my professors and to make friends with people in my department. I have also learned to pay it forward and help those who have helped me whenever I have the opportunity.
What is one of your favorite experiences at NC State?
One of my most cherished is a short-term study abroad to Costa Rica to explore food security and sustainability. We taught elementary school students about the importance of biodiversity, visited universities to learn how other students study agronomy and saw firsthand how climate change is affecting farmers. Though it was only one week, it was highly immersive and opened so many other doors for me – including a trip to Washington D.C. where I met Vice President Joe Biden!