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What have you done since graduating and where are you now?
I was promoted to a full time position at the East Lansing Food Co-op after graduating in May 2013, and for over 2 years I worked there in a few different positions, gaining lots of valuable experience and skills. In January 2016, I was hired as the manager of the Allen Farmers Market at the Allen Neighborhood Center (ANC) in Lansing. I am excited to support this fantastic organization and our local food system!
How did RCAH prepare you for what you're doing now?
RCAH taught me the values that inform the work I do and the way I interact with people. I was drawn to the ANC because of their interest in community development, capacity building, and place-making, all of which are major focuses of RCAH curriculum. I first discovered my passion for food systems work in an RCAH 292 class which in part focused on the Urbandale neighborhood, so I feel like I've come full circle now that I'm directly serving the Eastside of Lansing each day.
What were your academic interests in RCAH?
After that fateful 292 class, I signed up for the specialization in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems (which is now offered as a minor), and I took nearly every class on their list! From organic farming to nutrition to cultural studies, I drank up as much diverse food-related information as I could. I also decided to minor in Spanish after my study abroad experience in Costa Rica.
What were your favorite aspects of the RCAH experience?
This is kind of weird, but one of my favorite things about RCAH is the difficulty of explaining what exactly RCAH is and what you can do with this degree (answering the dreaded question: "What job will you get?"). I had to learn how to stand up for my college and persuasively describe its benefits to anyone who asked, and learning this skill has been valuable in all aspects of my life. It can be frustrating to be doubted, especially by your parents and friends, but it's satisfying once you've gained confidence in yourself and your decisions and can share that confidence with others!
Did you ever take part in Study Abroad/Study Away at MSU?
Yes, I studied abroad in Costa Rica for two months in the summer of 2011 with a small group of RCAH (and 1 non-RCAH) students. It was the longest I've ever lived outside of Michigan, and it was very hard, but ultimately it was rewarding. I still reference things I learned on that trip to this day!
What words of wisdom do you have for current RCAH students?
I would encourage current students to stay with RCAH for 4 years. Many people drop out after the first or second year in favor of a more "functional" degree, but I stand by my decision to pursue the full RCAH degree because the seeds that are planted freshman year are then given time to fully blossom into an incredible depth of knowledge.