UAPB’s first agricultural engineering graduate tells how it changed her life

Allison Malone is steeped in history as the very first graduate with a unique engineering major at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff! Learn more about his experience in the Version UAPB by Will Hehemann below.

Allison Malone (Photo credit: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff)

Allison Malone of Memphis, Tennessee is the first student to earn a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). The degree program, launched in 2019, trains students to meet the demand for more efficient means of production in the agricultural sector.

Malone graduates with a job in hand. She accepted an agricultural engineering intern position with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Dover, Delaware.

She had already completed an internship at the Dover office. However, due to the pandemic, the internship took place online and she did all work in person at the NRCS offices in Shelby County and Jackson, Tennessee. This semester she also had the opportunity to work with the NRCS office in Pine Bluff.

“I’m excited to see a new part of our country and learn new parts of conservation,” she said. “While NRCS conservation work in the South tends to be more focused on farm irrigation and conservation practices, work in Delaware seems more focused on wetland restoration and working with farms. poultry. Of course, my family is both excited and sad about my move, but I’ve been preparing them for my departure for a long time – they always knew that I wanted to live in another part of the world one day.

UAPB Chancellor Dr. Laurence B. Alexander presents Allison Malone with the Chancellor’s Medallion Award for maintaining the highest GPA in the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Humanities. (Photo credit: University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff)

During his freshman year, Malone joined the USDA 1890 National Scholars Program. She received full tuition, books, and the cost of room and board. His internships at the USDA were also organized as part of the program.

“I really enjoyed the smaller classroom environment at UAPB,” she said. “I wasn’t just a number. UAPB teachers know your name and are always there for you. My teachers always made sure that I was on the right track in my studies and that I never missed important opportunities that would advance my studies.

Malone said Alicia Robinson-Farmer, an undergraduate regulatory science instructor and coordinator, was a great source of support that helped her apply to the USDA 1890 National Scholars program. Laura Hildreth, Program Coordinator for UAPB’s STEM Academy, taught her how to network and grow professionally.

She credits Dr. Obadiah M. Njue, Assistant Dean for Outreach and Outreach, for helping her choose her major and ensuring that she chose to study at UAPB in the first place. She met him when she participated in an agricultural conservation project for high school students organized by Brown Missionary Baptist Church in Southaven, Mississippi.

“During the summer apprenticeship, I was the student leader of an 11-person team. I happened to be one of the youngest participants and the only girl in the group,” Malone said. . “I ran two gardens and a farmers’ market, where we sold everything we grew. I ended up giving the program organizers and visitors a tour, and Dr. Njue was there. He seemed impressed with my work and told me to keep UAPB in mind when I started looking for universities. He told me he would make sure I had access to scholarships and financial aid to pay for my studies.

Malone said she loved the outdoors and had an interest in plants since she was a child. Later, she became interested in engineering. Specifically, she began researching civil engineering, which would allow her to design public works, and biomedical engineering, through which she could design prostheses.

“Civil engineering didn’t seem engaging enough,” she said. “And biomedical engineering was out of the question once I found out you had to be in the operating room during surgeries involving prostheses – I can’t stand the sight of blood.”

It wasn’t until she participated in the Agricultural Conservation Project for high school students that she learned about the possibility of pursuing a degree in agricultural engineering.

“Before that, I didn’t know there was a major that combined my two greatest interests,” she said. “Dr. Njue told me that they were in the process of establishing a degree program in the field at UAPB – that pretty much sealed the deal to enroll in UAPB. started majoring in plant science and I changed my major once they finalized the agricultural engineering program in my second year.”

At UAPB, Malone served as president of the Minority Club in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Allied Sciences (MANRRS) and the National Honor Society Alpha Kappa Mu. She was a member of the STEM Academy, the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society, and the Carolyn F. Blakely Honors Program. She was secretary and second soprano section leader for the Vesper Choir and a member of the Yard Voices of Praise gospel choir.

“I am extremely proud of Allison,” said Dr. Tracy Dunbar, UAPB Department of Agriculture Chair. “She will receive the Chancellor’s Medallion Award for maintaining the highest GPA in the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Humanities. She is going to work for the USDA NRCS and is looking to pursue higher education. This is the type of experience that I would like all of our students to have at UAPB.

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its outreach and research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion , age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

Amalia H. Mercado