From Drought to Genetics, A Lifetime of Plants

Why do I belong at the University of Illinois?

In 1988, drought was the main concern in my small southern Illinois town. My parents’ only blessing that year was the birth of a baby girl amidst the withering crops. What no one knew then was that the current drought crisis would ultimately influence the career that baby – me – would eventually choose.Growing up in a rural community has been a tremendous experience. Since I was the closest thing to a boy my father had, I was the one to help him on the farm. We bonded over farming; it taught me perseverence and a positive attitude that went beyond the farm into schoolwork and social interactions.Farm life also inspired my love for plants. For as long as I can remember, plants have amazed me. As a child I liked to cut the stems of my grandmother’s flowers in half to see what was hidden inside. The sight and smell of corn growing and pollinating are some of my favorite memories, and continue to enthrall me now. My strong interest in both plants and biology makes me certain that I want to be a geneticist.I plan to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of its esteemed reputation in the agricultural field. My hope is to earn a doctoral degree at the University of Illinois and then work for a leading agricultural company such as Monsanto, where I could immediately apply my education and help eliminate world hunger and crop disasters. I know that without a rural childhood, including the drought that surrounded my entry into the world, I would not have the enthusiasm or commitment needed to make the most of the University of Illinois’s opportunities in agricultural education. In between childhood on a farm and an adult life as a geneticist, the University of Illinois is where I belong.

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