Akers of Love
Story by Shylo Adams
Cindy Akers, Ph.D., stepped out of Room 209 in the agricultural education and communications building feeling slightly nauseous about her first class. Nothing had prepared her for the 15-minute lecture she had given in her debut as an instructor at Texas Tech University. This was in the fall of 1997, after Akers had accepted a position as an agricultural communications instructor. Little did she know that she would make education part of her career.
Akers grew up in Estancia, N.M., and as part of the fourth generation in agriculture, she knew her calling in life would be in that direction. After high school graduation she joined the livestock judging team at Clarendon College in Clarendon, Texas.
It was on this team she would meet Sam Jackson, Ph.D. the livestock judging team coach, and Jerry Stockton, Chair of the Agricultural Education and Communications Department. Together, they encouraged her to major in agricultural communications at Tech. “As a female I knew I wasn’t going back to production agriculture; that was for my brothers,” Akers said. “I wanted to find a job where I could promote an industry I loved, so it was a perfect fit for me.”
Akers graduated from Tech in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Agriculture with an emphasis in agricultural communications. She had completed an internship with the USDA Farm Service Agency and wanted to return to the agency.
Unfortunately, they were in a hiring freeze. Akers instead took a job with Livestock Market Digest, a bi-monthly magazine. Then the USDA Farm Service Agency contacted her and asked her to apply for a management training position. After completing a year of training she served three years as director in Lincoln and Otero counties in New Mexico.
A series of changes including marriage, moving back to Texas, accepting an instructor position at Tech, and beginning graduate classes reshaped her life.
Two more degrees and 13 years later, Akers remains at Tech.
Although she was reluctant to leave her USDA job, she now feels like one of the luckiest people in the world.
“I’m fortunate enough that I got into another job that I loved,” Akers said. “I didn’t realize how much I would love it.”
Today, Akers serves as director of CASNR Student Services, while she continues to teach and advise agricultural communications students. The main focus of CASNR Student Services is recruitment, retention and replacement for the college. They do events throughout the year, including a series of receptions to meet with students, A Night with the Red Raiders, all across Texas. During these receptions, accepted students meet with representatives from each college.
“I enjoy meeting with the parents and prospective students and trying to get them excited about coming to Tech,” Akers said.
Akers said it is hard to choose her favorite experience at Tech. She said advising is what she takes to heart the most. She likes that CASNR is small enough that she feels she knows the students more than just in the classroom.
“Probably the thing I like the most about CASNR itself is that we are a small college and have the opportunity to know the students,” Akers said. “I feel like I know them, maybe not in their first month, but by the time they graduate. If someone calls and tells me I have this application and they are an ag comm student, I know them.”
Currently Akers is enjoying her second year teaching the introduction to agricultural communications.
“You get to see the students as they first come in and I try to make them as excited about our discipline as I am,” Akers said. “That’s been fun. I think it’s a very important class and that they need to feel like part of a family.”
Akers does many things on campus, but she is also a wife and mother. Steven, her husband, works for CEV Multimedia as a sales person. Together, they have two children, Lauren, 11, and Wrye, 8.
Akers enjoys interacting with her students and developing relationships with them. She said advising, teaching and doing research all tie together and complement each other. All of those activities go towards developing the relationships that she values. Today, Akers has no problem filling up an 80-minute class time, in fact she usually runs out of time.
“I just feel fortunate to work at Tech and with the students,” Akers said. “I love that part of my job, I really do.”