INTAD: A Life-Changing Experience

Posted: December 5, 2016

Sulav Paudel is a native of Nepal and graduated with a M.S. in Entomology and International Agriculture and Development at Penn State. Sulav has returned to Penn State to pursue a dual-title Ph.D. and shares his thoughts on why he returned.
Sulav on the far right, pictured with his advisor, Ed Rajotte, left.

Sulav on the far right, pictured with his advisor, Ed Rajotte, left.

Yes, International Agriculture and Development (INTAD) is one of the prime reason that I am back to Penn State. While I am still very passionate about entomology, my long-term goal to pursue a career integrating science and society was why I couldn’t look beyond Penn State. The INTAD dual-degree program offered by the College of Agriculture Sciences is an amazingly unique program to provide students with the opportunities to gain an international perspective and experiences in the realm of agriculture.

Having started my career in the development sector, I always felt that it was necessary to learn and gain some insights about agriculture in different settings to fast-track my career and be able make a bigger impact. When I realized that I can enroll into the dual degree program with INTAD during my Masters, I jumped into it without a second thought. And at the meantime, I was fortunate to have Dr. Edwin Rajotte as my adviser, who has always inspired me to go for things which I believe will help in getting closer to what I want to pursue.

If I were to describe my M.S. INTAD experience in two words, I would say it has been ‘life-changing’. Through various programs, I had the opportunity to travel to Russia, Bangladesh and Brazil and by graduation I had made countless friends from across the globe. And each of those friends have inspired me in one way or other.  These opportunities also gave me a global perspective on many issues including how socio-economic and political aspects are equally important in agriculture, how important is agriculture for the rural communities and its dynamics, and what drives change. It also gave me the confidence to interact with people from different cultures and I use the ‘soft’ knowledge gained from the experience while managing and building relationships with the professional and farmers.

When I was applying for jobs after completing my Masters, INTAD dual degree was instrumental. I strongly believe that a pure ‘science’ degree alone wouldn’t have made my employer interested on me as it was a pure ‘development’ position and they were looking for someone with international hands-on experiences working in the ground.

I see INTAD program as a bridge between ‘science’ and ‘community’. We, people in science, sometimes are in vacuum and far from the actual on-the-ground reality. Therefore the breadth of courses and related on-field experiences which INTAD offers will help students better prepared for their career where more and more recruiters are looking for employees with an international experience and a good global vision.

I am interested in development and I continually look forward to explore the people and agriculture in different settings. The knowledge and skills that I will gain during my PhD program here would obviously help me to bring structure to my thought process. Because when you are in development you realize that technology and science are just one part of the system and there are so many other social, political and economic fronts where you need to be adept to be successful.

INTAD was (and still is) the perfect program for person like me who are looking for a career to advance their career in development and use their basic science knowledge and expertise to solve local problems in both developing and developed world.