When people think of the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, their first thought is usually a kid who grew up on a farm or ranch in the middle of nowhere Texas donning jeans and boots.
“It is for people to know where their food comes from where your clothes come important from.”Sandra Addo
While this may be true for some, Sandra Addo is working to defy those stereotypes.
In January, Addo joined the CASNR Dr. Bill Bennett Student Success Center as the administrator for diversity and graduate student recruitment. The Dallas/Fort Worth area native was a first-generation college student and marketing major at Texas Tech. She also previously served as a college recruiter.
Addo said these experiences have led her to a career she is passionate about.
“It was fantastic,” Addo said. “Having already worked with first-generation students, it’s something that I had already become really passionate about.”
Cindy Akers, Ed.D., associate dean for academic and student programs, said she knew immediately when she met Addo she was perfect for the job.
“We felt so fortunate to find her,” Akers said. “When we interviewed her, she was a perfect fit. Even though she doesn’t have an ag background, her positive attitude of ‘she will try anything’ shows she understands the CASNR philosophy of ‘We’re here to help and how can we get it done?’”
Addo said even though she did not grow up around agriculture, she has found a love for it. Being a part of the CASNR community has shown her how incredibly important agriculture is. She said she has learned things she would have never otherwise known about had it not been for her current position.
“Now, they require students to take art classes, science classes and math,” Addo said. “But, they do not force people to take an ag class. It is important for people to know where their food comes from and where your clothes come from. I get so excited because I did not know about half of these things before CASNR.”
Akers said it has been quite apparent they chose the right person for the job with all of the fresh, new ideas she has brought to the table. Not only has she implemented various opportunities for students of all majors to learn about agriculture, but she has also worked tirelessly on perfecting organizations for minority demographics within CASNR.
Addo said she started by working on educating people about CASNR. She said she first created a website for CASNR graduate school. This gives students access to what research and projects are in progress as well as scholarship information. She then brought in various speakers to educate students about the importance of agriculture and what CASNR is about. Lastly, she improved CASNR’s social media presence by engaging its audience and targeting perspective students.
Addo said she then moved into larger projects. She has been working on improving the Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) and Agriculture Future of America (AFA) student organizations. She has been working with officers in both organizations to find better ways to promote them to students and recruit student members. She is planning to take them to conferences and festivals to help spread the word. Addo said MANRRS and AFA are organizations she wished she would have known about when she was in college.
“Everyone should know how important ag is,” Addo said. “Since I did not know about it for the past 25 years, I feel like I was cheated out of my education.”
Addo said the last major component she is responsible for is career services and internships. She said her goal is to pair every student that walks in the door with the career they are interested in. She has been working with the Texas Tech Career Center to ensure this goal is met.
Addo said the COVID-19 epidemic has not stopped them from helping students. CASNR has implemented about 10 online graduate school programs students can start from home. She said she is working to ensure students have full access to her during the quarantine and that they are working hard to keep students up to date with the latest information about the situation.
Addo said she wants students to know what a great program CASNR is and that CASNR is a great place for students of all backgrounds.
“I want everyone to know in agriculture and around that TTU CASNR is a family,” Addo said. “Before you’re in college, while you’re in college, and after you’re in college, we will continue to serve you and find ways to help you out.”