Ag Journeys

“It was beautiful. It was perfect. I did that.”

Kamsi Gerry-Ofor

From: Nigeria

Major: Landscape Contracting, Design/Build Option

Demographic Information: International student, started at Penn State Abington, minority in STEM

Good at: Hard work

“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing beautifully—and perfectly.”

“I’d go into the design studio in the evening and when I raised my head up and looked out the window— it was morning. I’m obsessed. One time I was laboring for hours and hours on a design.  I pushed away from the table and my jaw dropped.  It was beautiful. It was perfect. I did that.”

“When I saw the Design/Build option I said, ‘This is what I’ve been literally trying to do my entire life.'”

“I started in another major outside of ag. It just wasn’t for me. I was having a conversation with a Penn State adviser, telling her about my talents and interests, and she recommended Landscape Contracting in the College of Agricultural Sciences. I thought ‘Agriculture? I’m not a farmer!’ When I read about the major, met faculty and students, and toured the design studio, I knew I had found home. You design, you build things that make people happy. And not little things. Things like huge beautiful gardens full of living things where people will gather.”

“It can be intimidating walking into a class and being the only minority.”

“When I transferred to the College of Agriculture, Derek James invited me to come to a MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences) meeting. I went and saw so many people that looked like me. For the first time at Penn State—I felt 100% like I belonged. I felt like, I can do this. At the Ag career fair, company reps were looking for ME. Derek had put in a good word for me. THAT, is networking.”

“People have gone out of their way to make me feel at home.”

“You don’t just sit in class. You do it with your hands.”

“I’ve had instructors say, ‘Nope, that’s wrong, start over from scratch.’ I hated them for pushing me so hard. And I love them for it.”

“My entire life I’ve had a thing for the outdoors.”

“I went to boarding school in high school. When school got overwhelming, I’d find myself at the window, staring off into the wilderness.  Flowers and other plants always showed up in my doodles and writing. Now the outdoors isn’t just an escape. It’s my life.”