Meet Student Scholar Devon Smolak in This “Where are They Now? Series
By Michelle Pelletier Marshall, Women in Agribusiness Media (September 13, 2022)
Inspiration to reach for higher positions, loftier career goals, connections that result in job placements… those are just some of the benefits that the students who pass through the Women in Agribusiness (WIA) Student Scholarship program name as rewards for participating (and there have been more than 150 students who have benefitted from this opportunity since the inception of the program, in addition to the 30 students scheduled to attend this month's 11th annual Women in Agribusiness Summit in Dallas).
We’ve spent a few months highlighting these students, like Anna Grace Goode, Stephanie Bailey, Haylee VanScoy, and Bridget Silvernail, and today we introduce you to Devon Smolak. Smolak has attended two WIA Summits, and is excelling at her job with Crop Growers LLP/Farm Credit East ACA in North Andover, Massachusetts.
1). Please tell us more about the Women in Agribusiness Summit you attended, and how you came to learn about it and get involved in the organization.
I was introduced to the WIA organization before I started my graduate Masters of Agribusiness program at Texas A&M in 2016 through a recommendation by my program director. HighQuest Partners sponsored my scholarship for the 2016 Summit in Chicago. Eventually I mastered sales enough to convince my current employer, Crop Growers LLP/Farm Credit East ACA, to send me to the 2021 WIA Summit in Minneapolis this past year.
2). What connections did you make from that participation, and how did it help shape your career goals and path?
I made incredible connections from that participation; I came from a small family farm in New England and had no idea how expansive and diverse the agribusiness industry was as a whole was. I also had never been exposed to female executives before that Summit, which in my opinion was much too long of a wait, and which has inspired me to reach for higher positions and goals in my career path. Indirectly through WIA, at another HighQuest event, Boston Ag Club, I actually met a regional manager who got me in front of my current employer.
3). What is the top skill or benefit you walked away with from the Summit?
I walked away from both Summits with a solid network, a visualization of the type of leader I aspire to be, and an expanded horizon of opportunities to pursue in the field of agribusiness. I appreciated the Summit’s focus on “going for it”, and fervent challenge to all to get to the next step in their career.
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If you are a WIA student scholarship beneficiary or know of one who’d like to share her story, please reach out to Michelle Pelletier Marshall at email@example.com. Or to be considered for a scholarship, contact Carrie Vita at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit womeninag.com/initiatives.