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Dec. 23, 2014
A plethora of hands-on experiences, opportunities and support helped students like Caraline Harrelson, Christina Williamson and Hillary Snyder earn their bachelor’s degrees at Northwest Missouri State University this fall – and gain employment in their fields of choice.
Harrelson, of Clinton, Mo., earned her degree in animal science and secured employment as a human resource specialist at Triumph Foods in St. Joseph, Mo., and Snyder, a native of Franklin, Mo., who earned degrees in agricultural business and animal science, will join her in St. Joseph as a pharmaceutical sales representative in the swine division at Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica. Williamson, of Clarinda, Iowa, earned her degree in agricultural education will work as a substitute teacher during the spring with intentions of gaining full-time employment before the new school year begins next August.
All three women point to the positive relationships they established at Northwest with peers and their instructors as keys to helping them successfully complete their college degrees and find employment.
“Not only my friends, but I’ve also met some great faculty and staff who have helped me on my way,” Harrelson said. “They’ve done an amazing job of teaching and getting me prepared to go out in the real world. I’ve got a great job to go to, and I can’t thank Northwest enough for preparing me to go on and start that career.”
Snyder added, “I can remember having classes with professors two years ago with whom I still stay in contact. I still contact them for advice, and that is something you don’t see everywhere. You don’t get that at any university, and I think that’s what really sets us apart.”
While the women say they were attracted to Northwest by its warm, caring atmosphere, they quickly realized the advantages of the hands-on opportunities offered through the University’s strong agriculture program. The University’s 448-acre R.T. Wright Farm is home to beef, swine, dairy, poultry and sheep herds, as well as row, silage and hay crops.
“I really got to see all parts of agriculture, in my major and my minor,” said Harrelson, who finished her degree in 3 1/2 years. “It was great to have the hands-on experience and that has really prepared me to start my career in agriculture.”
Additionally, while all three women grew up around farming in varied ways, Northwest, through opportunities available to its students, helped them hone their skills in unique ways. Snyder served as an agriculture ambassador and Williamson was a member of the Sigma Alpha agriculture sorority. Both were members of the Collegiate Farm Bureau.
Harrelson grew up raising show pigs and was surrounded by a family of farmers. As she began attending Northwest, she knew she wanted a career in agriculture and found her niche in the animal science program. A communication minor enhanced her skills.
In addition to gaining experience at the Wright Farm, Williamson built her teaching skills through Northwest’s practicum classes and student-teaching experience at Northeast Nodaway in nearby Ravenwood.
Snyder, who also completed her degree in 3 ½ years, said she knew Northwest was the place for her after her first visit to the campus. Harrelson and Williams had similar experiences and now have siblings attending Northwest.
“After meeting with faculty members and going to the University farm, I realized that Northwest was really focused on their students and they really want you to be engaged,” she said. “I just felt at home and it was the perfect fit.”
The women agree Northwest helped them gain self-confidence and become stronger advocates for agriculture.
“You get so many opportunities to go into the field, and seeing exactly what you can do firsthand and how many lives you get to change really showed me how that’s what I want to do the rest of my life,” Williamson said.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468