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Monday, November 29, 2021

Students involved in Multiculturalism in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences share experiences

KATE LEE / COURTESY

Individuals of different backgrounds find aid in organization dedicated to minorities’ professional growth

Multiculturalism in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, also known as MANRRS at UC Davis, is a nonprofit organization that promotes diversity in all majors, with a focus on agriculture. Weekly meetings double as a one-unit class that students can register for after attending a meeting.

The organization was initially created with the goal of offering a network to minority students of professionals in the agricultural field. Its mission continues to be to promote the academic and professional advancement of its members and to empower minorities in various fields.

MANRRS provides opportunities for many students to prepare themselves for the post-college workplace. Shannon Chee, a fourth-year computer science major, has been involved with MANRRS for the last four years and has found her experience with the organization to be extremely beneficial and fruitful.

“At MANRRS, we hear the success stories of others who started out just like us, we learn about and practice professionalism, and we gain hands-on experience in leadership,” Chee said. “It’s an opportunity to learn, further our career dreams, and gain exposure to the real world of business. We have weekly meetings where we have successful guest speakers from both industry and academia come in and tell us about the work they do, how it impacts the world, how they got started, and give us advice as well as workshops that teach students how to write a resume and cover letter, or negotiate salaries or the basics of Excel, or other skills that you need to learn as a working professional. There’s an amazing network of mentors and recruiters so it definitely helps with landing jobs and internships.”

Chee also noted that while MANRRS is an opportunity for students to learn and develop, it also provides these professionals from a minority background with an opportunity to get involved with a community of similar roots.

“For working professionals, it’s a chance to give back and to shape the hearts and minds of the next generation of agricultural leaders,” Chee said. “It’s an opportunity to change the world one student at a time.”

Nationally, the goals of the organization are tailored toward individuals hoping to enter an agricultural field. As such, the organization holds events and conferences to bring together students and professionals in those industries. Kate Lee, a fourth-year animal biology major, recalled her experience in the organization and how it has helped her break into her intended career path.

“Through MANRRS, I was able to meet so many professionals that are in animal-related fields and they’re doing things that I didn’t even know existed as a career,” Lee said. “It’s really amazing because when we do go to these networking events, [these professionals] genuinely want to help you. They will go out of their way to do whatever it takes to help you and that’s so encouraging.”

The organization offers many platforms for students to network with professionals both in the form of regional events and at the Annual National Training Conference and Career Fair. Lee reflected on her experience attending the national conference and how conducive it was to her professional advancement.

“Especially when going to the national conference, it was so amazing to see all these intelligent, kind, passionate people of color and that was just so awesome to see,” Lee said. “I would talk to people for like 10 minutes and they would find out my major and be like ‘I know someone in [this] company, I’ll contact them and ask if there are any openings.’”

Lee noted that while these conferences are a place to network with professionals that may help students find opportunity in their intended job sector, many of these individuals are also inspirational figures to students who experience similar hardships as minorities.

“We have so many professionals come in and conduct seminars and workshops and a lot of them are minorities,” Lee said. “Seeing them make it in the world is so inspiring and impactful. These professionals are role models for all of us and a lot of the times, they’re leaders their fields. They allow us to gain access in their world.”

While MANRRS’ initial goal nationally was to promote diversity in fields focusing on agriculture, the Davis chapter aims to be as inclusive as possible with individuals striving to enter any professional sector.

“As a national, nonprofit organization, the vision for MANRRS was to change the face of agriculture,” Chee said. “Here at Davis, we wanted to expand on that idea and make sure we are as inclusive as we can be to all groups of people. The agricultural industry needs engineers, designers, business majors as well as food scientists and veterinarians to run a successful company. There’s also a misconception about what ‘agriculture’ is and a lot of people in agriculture majors feel like they don’t belong when in actuality they do. We’ve gotten questions from food scientists, geneticists, geologists, and hydrology majors asking if MANRRS is right for them and the answer is always yes.”

Zaid Al Rakabi, a second-year computer science major, noted how he found personal growth after joining MANRRS, though he doesn’t intend to pursue either a career in agriculture or in a related field.

“MANRRS is an organization that incorporates many fields and disciplines and offers anything for anyone who is willing to learn more and put themselves out there,” Al Rakabi said. “I would anyone to definitely come out if they are interested in professional development, networking and gaining more professional experience; MANRRS isn’t limited to just your field of study. Personally, it’s made me better at networking, better at connecting with others, and a better leader.”

For more information about Multiculturalism in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, and to get in contact with the organization, students can connect with MANRRS on its Facebook page, or attend a meeting at Meyer Hall on Wednesdays at 5:10 p.m..

 

 

Written by: Alyssa Hada — features@theaggie.org

 

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