Reaching graduation is a milestone for senior Te'Mecia Tarver whose educational journey will continue at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) University in the spring of 2023.
The 22-year-old Wildcat is earning her bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering technology on Dec. 10. However, her first career choice was architecture until she learned about Fort Valley State University’s Department of Engineering Technology on the institution’s website. The division offers Bachelor of Science degrees in agricultural engineering technology and electronic engineering technology.
“I found that agricultural engineering technology fits me better,” Tarver said.
The Fort Gaines, Georgia, native recalled growing up on her paternal grandparents’ farm in Midway, Alabama, which led to her decision to major in agriculture.
“I wanted to go into a field that would ultimately help them out so I could come up with something to make their process easier. I have seen them do hard labor my whole life,” she said.
Tarver said she learned a lot about agriculture as a child helping with the field work and valued her grandfather’s stories about the traditions he shared with his father.
“That experience helped me learn how to grow my own food and sparked my interest in the engineering side. I would rather be the person designing the equipment and programs that assist farmers. I grew up creating and designing things and thought I would not mind doing this as a career,” she declared.
Tarver said working with Fanisha Maze, marketing and outreach coordinator for the College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology, helped broaden her horizons. Although she grew up around agriculture, Tarver never considered pursuing a career in it.
“All I knew about it was the farm work. I did not know about the actual field of agriculture,” she admitted. “Now, I am pushing everyone toward agriculture. Agricultural engineering technology opened my mind to different things I can do with it.”
Other involvement on campus that exposed her to agriculture and leadership opportunities included giving tours of FVSU’s agricultural facilities and serving as a member of the AgriDemic Forum, National Society of Leadership and Success, Engineering Club and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS).
The soon-to-be graduate aspires to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). “I have seen a lot that the USDA has done for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I like the programs they offer and how you can build your career with them,” she said, noting she desires to create a program to assist underserved farmers.
“I had a chance to see different perspectives of farming after interning in the summer of 2021 on the Robinson Farms LLC in Baconton, Georgia,” she said.
For two months, Tarver’s experience included farm marketing sales, engaging with different communities to sell products, harvesting and tillage. She said the work came naturally and reminded her of her time on the farm with her grandparents, who are her biggest inspiration.
“Through hard work, you can come up with beautiful things,” Tarver said. “Everyone needs food to survive and should know how to create their own food. I was blessed enough to learn that when growing up.”
For that reason, she also desires to start a program in her hometown to introduce more middle school students to agriculture. Looking to become a well-rounded student, she is excited about attending Alabama A&M University to pursue a master’s degree in food science.
“I have learned what I can do to help farmers with producing foods. Now, I want to learn the science behind the food,” Tarver said.
She advises students who are interested in majoring in agricultural engineering technology to keep an open mind. “It is about applying what you know to what you are going to learn,” she said, mentioning the benefits of experiencing many hands-on projects such as building a calculator through Excel.
As she prepares for graduation, the FVSU senior can breathe a sigh of relief. However, it’s a bittersweet moment. “I have to leave the friends and family that I made here and start a new journey further away from home,” she said.
Overall, Tarver is proud of her accomplishments and always strives to be a good person. “I would rather give good out to this world verses the negativity we have to face,” she beamed.