My pursuit of a career in horticulture academia is traced back to my childhood throughout which I worked for my family’s nursery and landscaping business. Due to my ties to the family business, the success and betterment of the nursery industry have personal significance. However, I wasn’t certain of my place in this industry until I was granted the opportunity to lead a section of the woody plant identification lab as an undergraduate teaching assistant at Virginia Tech. In addition to reinforcing my knowledge in plant identification and developing my interpersonal communication skills, my assistantship revealed to me my passion for teaching in higher education. Knowing that teaching is only a portion of a professoriate’s responsibility, I then pursued research opportunities. Thus, the three summers following my assistantship, I worked as an undergraduate researcher of wood-based substrates for containerized nursery-crop production. My research internship confirmed my desire to pursue a career in academia. The combination of teaching and research will allow me to share my passion for horticulture with students while giving back to the industry through my applied research.
After graduating with my B.Sc. in Horticulture, I immediately entered graduate school at Virginia Tech as a master’s student in the Department of Horticulture. Wanting to delve further into my research, I decided to transfer into the direct-to-PhD program to expand upon my findings. Currently, I am finishing my fifth semester of graduate school, and next semester, I will lecture on indoor plants, which will differ from my four prior semesters of woody plant identification labs. While this subject matter is not in my wheel house, I look forward to the challenge and change.