Just Call Me Master Marisa|NCSU Graduation

Some of you may have heard, but I graduated…again. This time the powers to be decided that I was a master at communicating so gave me a piece of paper that said so.


After two years at NC State University, I met my goal of getting a master’s degree, and am officially an alumnus of the Wolfpack. Let me tell you, though, running with the pack was not always easy. However, I learned more than I ever thought possible–things that go beyond communication theory, research, and papers. Some of these lessons were small, and others were much larger. Most were learned somewhere between Coliseum Deck and Winston Hall.


  1. Always make a mental note of where you park your car in the parking deck–after a stressful first day of grad school, I couldn’t remember where I parked my car. I walked aimlessly around, praying and trying not to cry. Finally, Blueberry came into view and I drove off into the distance.
  2. You cannot possibly predict the many scenarios you’ll be faced with as a teacher–I thought I had imagined it all. I was wrong. Almost on a weekly basis, a new scenario came up that I had to scratch my head at and supply an answer. The things those students came up with never left a dull moment.
  3. Somehow the 6 flights of stairs never get easier–I just knew I’d be oober fit by the end of my 2 years. Alas, nothing changed.
  4. Even a communication major can do statistics–I suck at math. I don’t exaggerate either. Somehow, though, I chose to do a quantitative thesis filled with numbers, and finished it!
  5. You can research anything, so do what you love–If I was going to write more than 60 pages, it was going to be on something I liked. So, I chose pigs. It made the hours of writing and research much more enjoyable and exciting!
  6. Night classes will complicate your eating schedule–when classes start at 6 and go till 9, figuring out when to eat gets complicated. Cookout was my saving grace on the way home at night.
  7. It is possible to deal with a forest of papers and never get a paper cut–this is only a quarter of the papers over 2 years, but I’m proud to say, I never got a paper cut.


Of course there was a lot more that I learned. Like the first few days are scary and really hard. You wonder how the heck they let you in to this place, but soon enough, you find your way…and your confidence. You learn to prioritize the millions of readings and assignments. You may find yourself learning what to do in a tornado warning with your students. You will definitely know what late nights are, and the joys of finishing a paper.

And, now after all of the lessons, I now hold a Masters of Science in Communication. I couldn’t have done it without some dear people like my thesis committee. They put hours into proofing, editing, and guiding me. Without them, I wouldn’t have a thesis that encompassed 2 states, 300 participants, pigs, and communication. A huge thank you to Dr. Keyton, Dr. Taylor, and Dr. DeJoy, and all of the other professors I had along the way.

I certainly couldn’t have gotten through grad school without  my family. Their prayers and support got me through every paper, assignment, and long night. They were my lifesavers so many times.


Speaking of lifesavers, I would be lost somewhere in the one way streets of Raleigh if it wasn’t for Garrett. He helped me navigate Raleigh, answered my many statistics questions, listened to my struggles, and always reminded me to get lunch.


So, I’m done. I came. I worked. I graduated. Just call me Master Marisa. I’m off to the next chapter in life, but first here’s some pictures from graduation day!!



I Have a Passion for Agriculture, but I Didn’t Go to College for Ag

Although I love agriculture, I chose not to get an agricultural specific degree in college. I chose to go to a college for my undergraduate degree that didn’t even have an agriculture program on campus, but that didn’t mean I left agriculture behind me. I brought it with me to school.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a vet. It made sense to me. I loved animals, and loved working with all the livestock on my farm. Despite passing out at the sight of blood, I still was determined to go to vet school. I had it all planned out. I would attend North Carolina State University and double major in animal and poultry science. I’d graduate and then head to vet school to specialize in large animals. In high school, I was in preparation mode. I went to any animal and poultry science camps I could go to. I was taking advanced chemistry, but one day, my fast track came to a screeching halt.

I couldn’t tell you the exact day, but I came to the realization that I hated science and math. I got queasy at blood, and I didn’t want my passion of animals to become something that I viewed as just work. So, I did something incredibly scary–I changed my entire future plans. I didn’t even keep the same college I had planned on. I went out on a limb, and it ended up being the best thing of my life.

My new chosen major was communication at a small rural liberal arts college–Campbell University. I fell in love with both the campus and the major. I chose to concentrate in public relations and health communications. Although I was not in an agriculture degree, I brought the ag with me. I wrote as many papers as I could on communication in agriculture. My honors thesis was about creating transparency in the ag industry. I was even able to go New Orleans to present that paper where  many in the audience asked me about agriculture. They were inquisitive, and I was in a position to answer those questions which was super exciting!


After graduating from my undergrad, I decided to go on to get my masters in communication. Although, I looked at degrees that were specifically agriculture communication, I chose to go to North Carolina State University (this time I was not looking at animal science). I am currently in my second semester there, and have written every research paper on agriculture communication.

While I love communication, it has been a bit bumpy at times incorporating agriculture into my studies. Typically, I am the only one with my interests. Often times I have to explain things, that to me are common knowledge. My papers often turn into a bloody mess from comments asking for elaboration on a term and to cite more. I also get a lot of comments that I sound like I am a public relations person for agriculture. I suppose, in a sense, I am. My passion just comes through. Thankfully, all of my professors have been open minded and really supported my interests!


While it can be frustrating to explain a lot of what I write and really work hard to explain my concepts, it has also meant I have been able to share my knowledge and passion with others. In both undergrad and grad school, I have had professors make an effort to visit me at the fair to watch me show animals and learn more about what I do. I have been able to stand in front of audiences and be a”public relation” person for ag, and answer questions. I have had the chance to hear what other people think about agriculture and try to understand that point of view. That has been an amazing aspect of majoring in a non-agriculture major–the discussions that have developed.

So, no, I didn’t major in agriculture. As much as I love it, that was not the path for me.  I chose to bring the ag with me to college, but that has been the best decision of my life. Sure, it has been a bit bumpy, but I have been able to share my passion with more than my fellow farmers. I brought agriculture to the classroom, and I hope to bring more communication to agriculture.