Congratulations to Monae Wilmore, the College Spring 2020 Student Commencement Speaker

Monae Wilmore, Animal Care and Management

May 15, 2020 Samantha Watters

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR) will hold its Spring 2020 Commencement celebration online immediately following the campus-wide ceremony on Friday, May 22nd at 1:00 pm. Monae Wilmore, who will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences, has been selected by her peers to serve as AGNR’s student speaker. Wilmore has been an incredible leader during her time with the college, attending the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) National Leaders Conference along with other leadership programming, and serving as an AGNR Student Ambassador. She's also supported the university community as a Guided Study Session leader in the Maryland Student Organization Resource Center. We caught up with Wilmore for a preview of her commencement address, and to look back on her time at AGNR.

Q: What motivated you to enter the Animal Sciences field as a student?

I knew that I wanted to work with animals since I was young. I was always passionate about small animals. When I began my lab classes, I immediately fell in love with livestock. My interest in food production grew from that. I took courses on zoonotic diseases, regulations, and livestock management. From these areas of study, I became enthralled with the farm to fork movement. I also care deeply about food justice and the ways in which poverty and lack of access to healthy food connect to health issues in minority communities. I am forever grateful that UMD exposed me to the complexities of our food system.

Q: What was unique and memorable about your time with AGNR?

The connections that I formed with AGNR staff and faculty were so unique. I felt comfortable enough to disclose my biggest challenges. Faculty and staff also celebrated huge triumphs with me. I love the community that AGNR provides to each student especially through the clubs and activities like the Animal Science cookoff and annual Ag Council Banquet. I truly felt part of something greater than myself.

Q: What have you learned throughout your AGNR experience that can help you make your mark on the world?

I have learned about organizations and government agencies that are making an impact in the lives of people worldwide. For example, MANRRS helps build professional skills and connect minority students with resources in a field that they do not see themselves represented in often. Also, I learned of USDA agencies like Rural Development, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and International Development that could lead to a meaningful career. I also learned the importance of sharing your experience. This is something that I learned through my time as an AGNR Student Ambassador. The students and parents that I had the privilege to interact with were always relieved to get answers to their burning questions. 

Q: What are your plans for the future, and how has AGNR helped shape those goals?

I plan to work in the realm of food security and combating the disproportionate effect that food access has on minorities. I want to do this by possibly working in one of the USDA agencies that I previously mentioned. I also have an interest in extension and would love to work in the UMD Extension service. Regardless of where my path leads, I am hopeful that I will make a difference and tackle some big problems.

Q: What advice for others, if any, do you have as AGNR graduates prepare to take their next steps?

Your path may not be linear. The industry professionals that I have spoken to seem to share a similar sentiment that their work found them. Closed doors may lead to the path you were meant to be on all along. Trust the process - you do not deserve undue pressure. I cannot wait to see where everyone goes, I know we are headed to some wonderful places!