Horticulture aficionado, Shannon Dexter ’17, continues to establish roots in the agriculture field.
Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Shannon Dexter ’17: I am from the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, just north of Asheville. I was a student in the first class of Madison Early College High School, a new high school where we had the opportunity to earn two years of college credit before graduating. During high school I was involved in numerous science related extracurricular activities including 4-H, the North Carolina Science Fair, and a Girls Outdoors Club. Growing up I always enjoyed being outdoors and working in our family garden. I think these activities are what really sparked my interest in pursuing something science related as a career. At first, I thought I might study animal science, zoology, or biology. However, after shadowing veterinarians, taking botany classes, and researching careers, I determined that I would most enjoy studying horticulture science at NC State!
Talk about some of your greatest accomplishments at NC State thus far.
The spring of my freshman year I jumped right into searching for a summer internship. I, specifically, was looking for an opportunity that would allow me to work both in a lab and in agriculture fields. Thanks to a connection I had made while on a class field trip to NC State’s Micropropagation and Repository Unit, they offered me a summer position assisting in sweet potato research. The following year I was able to do an individual research project with them as a part of the CALS Honors program. The summer after my sophomore year I was chosen as a Kelman Scholar. As a Kelman Scholar, I had the opportunity to dive deeper into research methods and plant pathology. I learned about genetic sequestration and was able to apply what I had been learning in my classes to the research projects. At the end of the summer, I presented my research efforts at the Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium. This was a great experience that really helped expand my understanding of what a career in the research field could look like.
Being a part of the Goodnight Scholars Program has been such a blessing and has brought so much to my college experience.
How would you describe your experience in the Goodnight Scholars Program?
Being a part of the Goodnight Scholars Program has been such a blessing and has brought so much to my college experience. I attended professional development workshops that helped me improve skills that I used when applying and interviewing for internships. I have served with my fellow Goodnight Scholars at STEM education nights for elementary school students and helped build homes with Habitat for Humanity. Site visits to companies in the Raleigh area have been another huge highlight for me. These visits have allowed me to get an inside look at what careers with companies such as BASF and Bayer CropScience are like, and speak to current professionals. I have served as a Goodnight Ambassador and enjoyed the opportunity to share with students about being a part of the Goodnight Scholar community and encouraging them to pursue college. Thanks to an enrichment grant from the Goodnight Scholars Program, I had the opportunity this past summer to go to Germany and have face-to-face conversations with refugees from all over the Middle East and hear their stories. My experience with the Goodnight Scholars Program has been enriching and diverse!
What does being a Goodnight Scholar mean to you?
To me, being a Goodnight Scholar means I have been provided the tremendous opportunity to attend NC State, and be a part of a community of world changers thanks to some very generous people who have invested in me. As a Goodnight Scholar, I am a part of a STEM focused program that desires to pay it forward, and give back to communities around the world.
What will the next few years look like for you?
In the future, I would love to be involved with an organization that is making a difference in communities, nationally or internationally, where I am working with people in the agriculture field. I enjoy problem solving, working with people, and understanding how things work. I would like to combine these interests of mine with my agriculture background to help solve community and agriculture issues. I am guessing this may look like being involved with research, managing a farm, or being a part of an education program.
What advice would give to a new or prospective Goodnight Scholars about being involved at NC State and the Goodnight Scholars Program?
I would encourage them to be bold and dive in! Living more on your own by going to college provides the opportunity for you to try new things, and at NC State the opportunities are almost limitless! In fact, it can be hard to decide which extracurricular opportunities to choose because there are so many. I would recommend trying to narrow it down to about four different activities or groups. For example, one activity related to one’s major or professional path, one activity that promotes spiritual growth, one activity that is more health and wellness focused, and one activity that is just for fun!