The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) will hold its Winter 2020 Commencement celebration online immediately following the campus-wide ceremony on Sunday, December 20th at 1:00 pm. Michelle Hang has been selected by her peers to serve as AGNR’s student speaker, graduating from the Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture. Hang served as President of the Agronomy Club, Executive Director of Planning for Green Roots, and an intern at Terp Farm, with plans to start her own farming operation after graduation. We caught up with Hang for a preview of her commencement address, and to look back on her time at AGNR.
Q: What motivated you to pursue a degree in AGNR?
As someone who was raised to be a classical pianist, I had no knowledge and limited experience in agriculture. But after witnessing food insecurity and knowing the impact a farm and access to fresh fruit and vegetables can have within a community, I made the decision to pursue a career in farming. I knew that in order to become a successful farmer, I needed to join this program and expose myself to successful people in academia and the industry. AGNR has produced many notable alumni, and its faculty and staff are truly the best. Once I made it into the college, I knew I was in good hands. Fast forward to today, and I will be graduating with my degree in Agricultural Science and Technology with a concentration on Environmental Horticulture.
Q: What was unique and memorable about your time with AGNR?
Hands down, driving a tractor for the very first time. For the Advanced Crop Science class, we took a field trip to Atlantic Tractor and learned about the newest technology from John Deere. Not only did I get a lesson in tractor training, but I also got to sit in a combine that probably costs more than a house!
Q: What have you learned throughout your AGNR experience that can help you make your mark on the world?
In a college full of bright and talented students, finding what makes me unique has helped me stand out. I’m a very good storyteller, whether through film, art, or music. I definitely plan to use these skills to inspire people and convey the story of our farmers, as this job and the industry is very misunderstood outside of AGNR. Realizing that we all offer something special—whether it’s our story, talents, or skills— is what motivates me to make my own mark on the world.
Q: What are your plans for the future, and how has AGNR helped shape those goals?
Being exposed to so many different opportunities during my time at AGNR has allowed me to get clear on my vision of what I want to accomplish after I graduate. As a first-generation farmer, the dream is to build a farm and create a legacy for my future children. In order to do this, I understand that I need to put myself out there, find successful mentors in the industry, and capitalize on my skills to attract investors to make this dream into a reality.
Q: What advice for others, if any, do you have as AGNR graduates prepare to take their next steps?
Your thoughts create your reality. If you truly believe in something, it will happen. Believe that you have what it takes, believe that you can achieve anything that you set your mind to, and believe in the impossible. Positive thinking and finding the silver lining in every situation will help you recognize opportunities and, better yet, allow you to create them yourself.