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The Agriculturist

Following the Red Brick Road to Success

Mai Lee Holmes

Following the Red Brick Road to Success

I watched my parents drive off last night. My dorm room is decorated with pictures, loaded down with snacks and crammed with as many clothes as I can fit. My first day of college officially begins today. I begin walking to my first class, thinking to myself, "Was this the right choice?"

and choosing a major. With thousands of colleges and universities as possibilities, several students have decided Texas Tech University and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources was the place for them. Students were drawn in by the small class size and the personal attention they would receive from their professors. The connection students and professors build leads to a more meaningful experiences rather than just being another number.

"It just felt perfect, like when you put on a wedding dress and it just fits," said Maria Mejia, a senior natural resource management major from Laredo, Texas.

She had considered four different institutions and it was not until after her visit to Texas Tech that she knew this was the place for her. She said the other institutions did not provide the opportunities and comfort Texas Tech did.

Similarly, students from other majors have had the same experience as Mejia.

"Tech"s motto is, "From here, it"s possible," and I truly believe that. From the first time I visited Tech, I just knew I belonged here," said Katie Setterbo, a junior horticulture and turf grass major with an emphasis in viticulture and enology.

Setterbo said her decision to come to Texas Tech was determined at a catering event. She said while she was working in Fredericksburg, Texas, in high school, she had to learn how to open a bottle of wine. Setterbo said her boss taught her how to correctly open the bottle and from there sparked an interest within her. She said they began discussing the different types of wines, how they are made and the flavors among the different varieties. All of this new information sparked her interest and fate came into play. After the catering event, she applied to Texas Tech on a whim after looking at the college"s website.

Setterbo"s attraction to Texas Tech was the department while another student was drawn to the classroom size within the college.

"The size would give me the attention I wanted in order to best prepare me for vet school," said Adam Copeland, a senior animal science major.

Copeland, from Katy, Texas, said he knew from the moment he stepped onto Texas Tech"s campus he was not going to be another number. The animal science department is smaller than other universities, which allowed him to gain more attention from his instructors.

"I just started flipping through the pages, stumbling upon landscape architecture, fate took hold of my future," said DeMera Ollinger, a senior landscape architecture major.


For Ollinger, the landscape architecture program had everything to do with why she chose to come to Texas Tech. Growing up in West Texas, she said she had a desire to get away from the scene for college, but her passion for horticulture did not take her any further away as she began flipping through a degree catalog.

The plan that they had laid out for her and the classes that were available for Adeline Fox, a senior agricultural communications major, were the things that put her back on the path for Texas Tech.

Fox said had not visited Texas Tech for judging contests or leadership events through the FFA. It was through volleyball and track camps where she saw Texas Tech's campus in a different light. Her choices were between Texas Tech and another institution. After visiting the other institution, said she realized she did not like the opportunities available to her and did not want to major in their agricultural communications department because it would force her to a career in livestock journalism.

It was not just the degree programs Texas Tech had to offer that caught these students' attention. The close relationships they developed with faculty and staff members have kept them here.

"Without those people, I would not be able to know how much I could accomplish," Setterbo said.

For these students, the relationships they share with their professors and fellow classmates have helped propel their success forward. According to Setterbo, the professors are like their parents. They know each of their students by name and have taken a personal interest in each one of them.

Setterbo has a group of students she has in every class and they are like a second family to her. They may not hang out outside of the classroom, but they know each others' strengths and weaknesses. She said this might not be available in all departments, but for her, this has helped her success in the classroom.

"From sharing experience in the field, to portfolio reviews, and networking job searches, I know of many individuals within our department who have helped make Texas Tech's landscape architecture exceptional," Ollinger said.

Copeland said he wanted his professors to know him by name. He has taken advantage of that opportunity and built a relationship with each of his professors. With hard work, determination, and their support, Copeland was admitted into Texas A&M Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences this Fall.

Mejia said if she did not have the support of her professors, she would not feel special. It would be as if she was another student in another college.

"Because of the interest they took in me I have been a more, well rounded student and have learned more than I would have just going to class and not getting to know them," said Kyle Brunson, a range and wildlife management major.

It is apparent the students within the college would not have achieved what they had wanted without faculty support.
Setterbo said Texas Tech offers students a unique experience, regardless of their field of study. She said whether or not you are from around Lubbock, it takes you out of your comfort zone. Setterbo said Texas Tech is large enough to be around many diverse people, but it also keeps a small community feeling. These additional factors help students sort through the thousands of colleges to find their new home for the next four years in Lubbock.

My first day of class was complete. I was walking back to my dorm. The wind was blowing through my hair. I could finally exhale in relief. I knew other students in my classes and was a little surprised at how welcoming my instructors were. My professors wanted to know my name and aspirations in life. Finally back at the dorm, I called my parents and told them the news. I was going to be a proud member of the Red Raider family forever more.

© 2012 Texas Tech Department of Agricultural Education & Communications