Alexandra is a student in the Department of Crop Sciences, and a member of the Crop Sciences Student Ambassador Program. Read more about Alexandra in the Q&A below.
Crop Sciences: Can you share your name and a little bit about yourself?
Hello, my name is Alexandra Isabel Gomez, and I am a junior majoring in Crop Sciences with a concentration in Agroecology. I am double minoring in Horticulture and Food & Environmental Systems. I am extremely interested in integrating different agroforestry, and polyculture systems focused on environmentally sustainable and efficient practices. I have worked at the Sustainable Student Farm, Dr. Martin Bohn's Maize Breeding Lab, and the University of Illinois Plant Clinic.
Crop Sciences: Why did you pick the Department of Crop Sciences as your program of study?
I became fascinated with agriculture and all things plant-related during my education at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences(CHSAS). My agricultural teachers inspired me to help change the way we view agriculture. Specifically, my teacher, Mrs.Julie Reynolds, taught Biology and Agriculture in Biotechnology. She inspired me to continue my agriculture education in the Crop Sciences program at UIUC.
Crop Sciences: What is your favorite part of being a student in Crop Sciences?
My favorite part of being a student in Crop Sciences is the copious amount of opportunities. There is a selection of concentrations one could choose from depending on their interests. I first started with a concentration in Plant Biotechnology. Later in my freshman year, I changed it to Plant Protection because I, too, am interested in bacterial and fungal pathogens and sustainable management strategies that reduce resistance, runoff, and build-up of agricultural chemicals. During the second semester of my sophomore year I changed it to Agroecology because of my deep passion for agricultural systems in their entirety and emphasizing of maintaining ecological sustainability and balance. As a freshman, when I came to register for classes, my Crop Sciences Advisor offered me the opportunity to study abroad in either Costa Rica, Panama, or the Domincan Republic. I chose Costa Rica, and I had the time of my life! The country was absolutely beautiful with an abundance of nature! I was able to get an inside look into their diverse and sustainable agricultural systems. In addition, the Crop Sciences academic advisor sends multiple weekly emails that consist of scholarships, jobs, internships, and various workshops. Several of the professors that teach class also have a lab where they conduct research. Students can immerse themselves within different research areas in crop sciences, from crop production and genetics to sustainable food systems and water quality. Turner Hall itself offers several lounging areas to work on homework or wait for class. As you can see you will never be bored!
Crop Sciences: What do you do outside of the classroom for fun or professional development?
Outside of the classroom, I am a new member of a sorority called Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha. We emphasize academics, host workshops, and do community service. I am a member of the IDEA Committee that helps improve the student's and faculty's overall environment by working on inclusivity, diversity, equity, and access. I am also working in the Metropolitan Food and Environmental Systems Program to help plan community gardens.
Crop Sciences: What do you hope to do after you graduate?
After I graduate from UIUC, I hope to join the Peace Corps and travel to any country to help improve agricultural production by teaching and showing approaches to more sustainable and efficient management strategies. I, too, hope to have an agribusiness of my own where I have either my very own rooftop garden and restaurant or farm-to-table bed and breakfast agroecotourism farm.
Crop Sciences: What is one thing that you want people to know about Crop Sciences, the College of ACES, or the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign?
Crop Sciences and the industry of agriculture relate to every human being on this planet. Why, may you ask? Well, it is because we all need to eat. However, there are so many more aspects to where the food we eat comes from, and it can be explored in the College ACES, Department of Crop Sciences. The class sizes are smaller, and the students are more tight-knit. Everyone knows everyone, and we all work together to develop solutions to the problems the agricultural industry faces every day.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Undergraduate Programs in Crop Sciences, you can email email@example.com. If you’re interested in scheduling a time to talk with a Crop Sciences representative, sign up here.