As agriculture student seeks vet
career, USDA gives support
By Billi London-Gray
Marissa Martinez says she has “always, always” loved animals. From raising chicks in her bedroom as a child to tending animals at Freeman Ranch during her first class at Texas State University, she has followed a path to make creature care her life’s work.
Added to her enjoyment of this work — and her dean’s list-worthy grades — as evidence that she’s found her calling, last week the federal government gave her its endorsement: she was selected as one of only 24 students nationwide to attend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual conference, the 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum.
The second-year animal science major, on track to become a veterinarian, says the recognition is exciting. But, she adds, she wouldn’t have found the opportunities without the support of Texas State’s Agriculture Department.
“My time at Texas State, the short two years that I have been here, has been nothing but great,” she says. “The atmosphere is amazing, everyone is so friendly, and my professors actually care about me as a person.”
Prompted by faculty members like Dr. Hardin Rahe, Martinez has applied for — and won — an impressive assortment of scholarships and extra-curricular career opportunities. In addition to winning the aforementioned all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to network with industry professionals at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum, she also received the Outstanding Freshman Student award from the Texas State Agriculture Department and a hefty USDA FATE Program scholarship.
The FATE Program, to which she applied at the urging of Rahe and ag education professor Dr. Doug Morrish, provides a generous stipend, fully-funded summer internships and field trips, and undergraduate research opportunities for Hispanic students majoring in agriculture, nutrition, biology or environmental science.
“I feel that I wouldn’t be in the position that I am without the help of Dr. Rahe,” she says. “I had him as a professor my first semester at Texas State…Since then, he has helped me and mentored me to apply for many different opportunities, and I am forever grateful for all his help.”
As a San Antonio-area native — Martinez graduated from high school in Converse, Texas — she says she dreams of opening a veterinary clinic in New Braunfels one day. She hasn’t decided whether she’ll ultimately concentrate her studies on large or small animals, but, she adds, “I have so much schooling ahead of me…I have a few more years to decide.”