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Ag Institute Grad Now Focused on Bachelor’s Degree

A young man standing in a wheat field.
CALS student Colden Bradshaw had never considered college. Now the future Ag Institute graduate finds himself not quite finished with college and NC State as he’s moving on to pursue his bachelor’s degree.

Throughout high school, Colden Bradshaw always helped his dad on the family farm. He assumed after high school, he would continue working with his father and didn’t put much thought into college. 

“I was just going to learn from my dad on the farm. We grow row crops: corn, wheat and soy. But in my agriculture classes, we kept having people from NC State’s Ag Institute come and talk to us,” Bradshaw said.

“I’ve not learned anything that I’m not going to apply later in life.”

The Duplin County native said the Ag Institute piqued his interest, and he began looking more into the program. He finally realized he wanted to go to college.

“Agriculture has played a big part in shaping who I’ve become now,” he said. “I want to be able to help people who didn’t get to go to college. … I want to be able to help them, give them good advice.” 

Bradshaw said one of the best parts about being part of the Ag Institute at NC State is the hands-on learning and immediately applying that to real-world situations.

“I’ve not learned anything that I’m not going to apply later in life. The content that we’ve learned in the class is more structured to helping us now on our own farms.”

Of course, like many other College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students, Bradshaw saw classes moved online because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he still managed to have some classes out in the field. Bradshaw said the adjustment wasn’t too hard, except for taking classes next to his bed.

“It is what it is. I just made the best out of it. Honestly, it’s not really been that big of a struggle to me, but it’s made me better at time management.”

As Bradshaw wraps up his program, he’s not quite done with college. He’s moving on to earn his bachelor’s degree in agronomy from the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences.

“Earning a bachelor’s degree stayed in the back of my mind throughout the first year, and then this summer I had an internship with Southern States, and I was talking with some people there, and they said the associate degree would only take me so far, but if I’m looking into being a part of companies like Syngenta or Monsanto, I needed a bachelor’s degree,” said Bradshaw. 

Though he’s bummed there won’t be an in-person graduation, he’ll get another opportunity to for one in four more years. But for now, he’s ready for his next chapter and the future impact he’ll make on the agriculture industry.

“If you can put a seed in the ground and make it grow, there’s just something special about that.”