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ASEC student elected MANRRS National Graduate Student President

As an undergraduate student, Zachary Brown studied animal science and played football at Southern University and A&M College. “Sports kept me busy. I didn’t have the time to pursue internships or join club activities like other students did.” With his focus largely on the team, Brown was not involved in other organizations.

When Brown went to Iowa State University for graduate school, he was introduced to Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), a national society that promotes academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities. He explains joining MANRRS totally changed his perspective.

“MANRRS gave me the chance to go on company tours, learn about the agricultural industry and talk with visiting professionals. It helped me understand a lot more about what’s going on in our agricultural world.”

“I was heavily involved in our chapter of MANRRS,” said Brown, who served in various roles, including president. He attended regional conferences and events where he networked with leaders from other universities, including Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Purdue.

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“The main reason I chose to pursue my Ph.D. at Purdue was Dr. Levon Esters,” Brown explained. The two met through MANRRS and reconnected at the Mentoring at Purdue (M@P) Summer Scholars Program.

During the visit, Brown had the opportunity to talk with Esters, an associate professor of agricultural sciences education and communication (ASEC), about his research and interests.

“I found Zachary to be full of potential and someone who would make a great addition to my grad group,” said Esters. “I also appreciated Zachary’s spirit of wanting to help others, which is something I try to instill in all of my graduate students. Two years into his doctoral program, Zachary has done an excellent job of preparing himself academically and has pursued leadership opportunities that will prepare him for the rigors of an administrative position which is what he aspires to do. There is no doubt that Zachary is on an upward trajectory and he will continue to take ‘Giant Leaps’ for years to come.”

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Brown recently assisted with data collection and analysis on the NSF grant-funded project, Modeling Agri-Life Sciences through STEM Integration (MALTS). The team worked with middle school students, using environmental science and urban agriculture as context for STEM teaching.

Brown has also served as MANRR’s Region V Graduate Student Vice President. For his diligence in the role, the MANRRS National Officer Team awarded Brown the 2020 Foster Spirit of Excellence Award.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to receive some recognition in the past, but this touched me on a different level,” said Brown. “The award was voted on by the other national officers. It means a lot when the people you work with believe in you enough to say that you deserve this kind of award.”

Brown was also selected to be the 2020-2021 MANRRS National Graduate Student President.

“I’m excited to represent Purdue and graduate students across the nation as we work to improve the MANRRS experience for current and future graduate students,” said Brown. “Sometimes you need to step into leadership to make the changes you want to see.”

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