Texas Tech Felt Like Home

Derek Rios considers himself a non-traditional ag student from Hilmar, California. His mom is in the medical field and his experiences in agriculture came in high school. He is majoring in agriculture education with plans of teaching high school agriculture. He found his passion for agriculture through great past experiences.


Straight out of high school Derek decided that he was going to go to Universal Technical Institute to study diesel mechanics. When his high school Future Farmers of America (FFA) advisor heard about this decision for his education, he sat him down and talked to him about the different choices he had in the area of careers in agriculture. He told him that there were many more careers out there than diesel mechanics and that he should explore some of these options. Derek said, “He got me an internship at our local junior college and from there my passion for agriculture intensified.” Derek believes that if his FFA advisor had not had such confidence in him or taken the time to help him find his career path that he would not be conducting this interview today.


After his FFA advisor had talked to him and he had completed his internship, Derek realized that he had a dream to further his education out of California. He was able to make a visit to Texas Tech University. When stepping on the campus he realized that the atmosphere and the campus felt like home. He felt that this was the place that he was to continue his education. “After speaking with the agriculture education professors, I knew Tech was the place for me,” Derek stated with a smile.


Currently, Derek is in his student teaching semester at Texas Tech University. He is doing his student teaching in New Deal ISD and enjoying the experience. He is also currently a member of the Farm House Fraternity that is active at Texas Tech. Spending time with friends and playing golf are also important to him.


Being the best ag teacher possible is Derek’s big life goal. He desires to give his students some of the same opportunities in FFA that he had when he was in high school. “Without my past high school FFA advisors, I don’t think I would be in the position that I am in right now,” commented Derek. Texas Tech University has helped him work towards his goal and has helped him with a great student teaching experience.

Without my past high school FFA advisors, I don’t think I would be in the position that I am in right now

His goal of being the best ag teacher possibly comes from his FFA advisor and from his family. His FFA advisor helped pursue his passion and his family supported him. His mom worked hard to support his family and this is instilled in him. He also has two older siblings that are a big part of his motivation. “I want to be the best version of myself for them,” Derek confidently states. Derek plans on completing his teacher certification soon and on graduating in May.