COLUMBUS – Mallary Caudill of DeGraff has been named a 2022 Distinguished Senior at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).
“The Distinguished Senior Award is the most prestigious undergraduate award in CFAES, recognizing the top graduating seniors from each of the academic units on the Columbus campus,” said Steven Neal, CFAES professor and associate dean and director of academic programs.
Caudill, an agricultural communication major from Champaign County, was nominated by college faculty and staff who felt that she personified the award’s attributes of academic, disciplinary and professional excellence.
“One of the hallmarks of our college is an emphasis on student success, and it is heartwarming to see it exemplified through the accomplishments of our students,” Neal said. “Recipients are our future innovators and leaders who have already made an impact within the academic environment at this university and beyond.”
Caudill said that like many students in the midst of a pandemic, she found herself at a crossroads in the spring of 2021.
“In the time of unknowns, and most internships being offered in a virtual format, I was facing a season of burnout I never had before,” she said. “I didn’t want to experience the world from my computer screen. I wanted true personal growth and to push myself out of my comfort zone.”
She started her own business, marketing herself as a contractor to agricultural companies.
“I wanted to build my skills, challenge myself as I navigated starting a business, and grow as a young professional outside of a formal internship,” she said. “I wanted real-life, in-the-field experiences seeing different areas of agriculture throughout the United States, outside of my current understanding of Ohio agriculture and my family’s grain farm.”
Caudill said she was challenged and grew in areas she never would have without this unconventional learning experience. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in agriculture policy, public relations or journalism.
“I am multi-passionate,” she said, “so I am excited to see what my future holds for me personally and professionally after leaving Ohio State.”
At the start of the pandemic, Caudill was an intern with Ohio Corn & Wheat.
“The COVID-19 pandemic was in its early stages of unknowns and constant change,” she recalled.
“As an intern, the opportunities to network and engage in person grew increasingly slim, and the events and projects I was tasked with leading turned into hitting ‘start meeting’ on a Zoom call. As discouraging as this could have been, I took the opportunity to break the script and find new ways to make the experience engaging and fruitful.”
This included spearheading a virtual fly-in to lobby D.C. politicians and leading the group’s collegiate leadership program.
“I can proudly say that even though the internship experience looked very different from its initial scope, the experience gained and the skills I could bring to the table, because of Ohio State, made it worthwhile.”
This year, she is editor of the AgriNaturalist annual magazine and an intern at Inspire PR Group.
The CFAES Distinguished Seniors took place March 23 during a by invitation reception at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on The Ohio State University’s Columbus campus. A YouTube video recognizing the award recipients on the Ohio State—College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences YouTube channel was also released on that same day.
Info via The Ohio State University.