Student Experiences From 37th Annual MANRRS National Conference

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Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) is a national society that supports the professional development of minorities in agriculture and related science careers.

This past March, ten students of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s MANRRS Chapter attended the thirty-seventh annual MANRRS National Conference in Chicago, IL. The conference is designed to develop partnerships between students in agriculture and natural resources and professionals from academic institutions, government agencies, and private industry.

Several MANRRS students shared their experiences from the conference, highlighting what they did and the conference’s impact on their personal professional development.

Bryanna Nicole Fayne explained that the conference held specific sessions for graduate students that addressed their experiences and needs. She especially appreciated the sessions about working in cross-disciplinary teams and goal setting.

Fayne mentioned that she had the opportunity to meet with students from other universities and network with professionals from different companies. She even received invitations from two separate companies to attend their private networking events during the Career Expo. Fayne also caught up with a company representative she first met during a virtual conference in 2020, which eventually led to a summer internship. She said, “MANRRS provides great opportunities to maintain connections we have made.”

Ariane Nichelle Deforneau expressed her gratitude toward MANRRS advisor Sharon Jean-Philippe of the School of Natural Resources for all of her hard work during the conference. During the conference, Deforneau met with friends, made new ones, attended workshops, and talked with speakers. She said, “I was able to gain a better understanding of having a professional mindset and emotional intelligence.”

Kaitlyn Grace Choi found the conference to be “refreshing and enjoyable.” She continued, “I appreciate the opportunity of being able to experience the MANRRS conference and meet countless people who can help me in the future and provide me with more opportunities I would not be able to receive anywhere else.”

Courtney Rynae WicklineIn said she enjoyed exploring Chicago and the conference workshops. She expressed, “I thought the workshops I went to this year were even better than last year,” further explaining that they felt a bit more “relaxed.”

Experiences like these are the reason why MANRRS was established—to ensure minority students have opportunities to advance in careers where they could potentially be overlooked and not valued for their unique backgrounds and skill sets.