I would encourage a student to view hardships as opportunities by a different name.
For Levelland native John Duff, agriculture has been key to both professional and personal endeavors. Duff pursued his studies in agribusiness because of his father. “My dad’s a farmer, and a farmer is equal parts businessman and agriculturalist, so I thought agribusiness was a natural choice,” he said. Duff’s interest in agriculture allowed him to excel academically and to apply his knowledge through several internships. Outside of the classroom, Duff has been involved with the South Plains Food Bank’s organic farming program.
Learn more about Student of Integrated Scholarship John Duff in this question-and-answer session.
What got you interested in your major?
I am a senior agribusiness major. Growing up, I planned on farming with my dad. Since a farmer is equal parts agriculturalist and businessman, agribusiness was a natural choice.
What courses are you taking this semester?
I am taking Introduction to Production and Operations Management, International Finance, and Strategic Management.
What is the most challenging course you've taken? How has it affected you?
The most challenging course of my college career was computers in agriculture II, which is an in-depth class on spreadsheet analysis. The instructor—one of Texas Tech's best—pushes students very hard and gets great results! Spreadsheet analysis is now my greatest strength, and I use the techniques I learned in that class on a daily basis in my job.
Have you completed internships or had other work experience applicable to your field of study?
God has blessed me with many professional opportunities, as I am now on my fifth internship. I have had two congressional internships, one internship with an agricultural lobbying firm, a research internship with the economic research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and I am currently an intern for a national trade association. These experiences have been infinitely valuable, and the connections I have made will be with me for the rest of my life!
Have you participated in undergraduate/graduate research?
I had a research internship with the Economic Research Service, which is the economic research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. My role was primarily data organization (my spreadsheet skills served me well in that context) and data mapping. Working in a research environment was a great experience, and seeing my name on the completed paper will be, as well!
What service projects (volunteering, community service, etc.) have you been involved in?
The South Plains Food Bank operates an organic farm on the South Loop. The farm operates largely on the volunteer efforts of underprivileged and at-risk kids from surrounding neighborhoods. The kids work on Saturday mornings during the school year, vying for a limited number of paid summer positions. The farm always needs more help, so it is a great opportunity for anyone interested in serving in an agricultural setting. I am fortunate to have been able to devote some of my time to this worthwhile cause!
What advice would you give to other students who would like to be a Student of Integrated Scholarship? Students of Integrated Scholarship balance academics with additional activities, such as research, internships, service learning, and study abroad.
I would advise them to aim for the margin—that extra hour of study that will earn them a 90% in a class, that additional internship that sets them apart from other job candidates, that extra Saturday per month they spend volunteering. If students figure out how to go a little further than their peers, they will be miles ahead at graduation. I would also encourage students to view hardships as opportunities by a different name.
What are your plans after graduation?
My ultimate professional goal is to do the best job I can advocating on behalf of the American farmer. I do not know yet if that means I must work for a trade association or run for Congress, but I am willing to go wherever the Lord leads me!
What experiences do you value most as a student at Texas Tech?
My most valuable experiences, ironically, have come off campus during my internships. My internships were all made possible in some way by Texas Tech, though, so I will always be grateful for my time here!