Thursday, October 8, 2015

Olivia Murphy-Sweet: Alumni Scholarship Award #studentsuccess #psuaged16

“It’s a funny thing coming home.  Nothing changes.  Everything looks the same, feels the same.  You realize what’s changed is you” F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Olivia Murphy-Sweet has lived this quote to the fullest.  She spent the summer doing research in San Ignacio Belize, immersing herself in the village of San Jose Succotz.  Olivia's research focused on establishing a 4-H program in the village of San Jose Succotz.  She attests to her personal and professional growth while in Belize.  It’s safe to say, she returned with a different perspective on life!
Like any intentional research, there was some motivation behind Olivia’s research project.  In Belize, there is a lack of youth organizational development which drives youth to turn toward crime and violence.  Community leaders worry about passing down indigenous knowledge of local agricultural practice due to the lack of youth participation.  Agriculture education programs are a key component of addressing this issue.   Olivia’s passion for agriculture education shines through all avenues of her work.
During her research, Olivia interviewed current 4-H leaders, community leaders and students in San Jose Succotz, in the Cayo District of Belize.  The interviews were to aid in understanding how 4-H youth development could be adapted to fit their cultural context in order to preserve the indigenous knowledge in the local community.  In-depth studies of the village and community during her time in Belize helped provide perspective to incorporating 4-H in the village.
Olivia’s internship experience deserves accolades, as she was one of 48 students to be conferred with the prestigious Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Ag Alumni Society Internship Award.  Created in 1986, the Internship Award was created to recognize students who participated in an educational internship program during the school year or summer.  
Olivia would like to extend a special “thank you” to Dr. Filiberto Penados who was her in country advisor in Belize.  He helped Olivia organize her trip and made the immersion into a new culture welcoming and seemless.  She would also like to thank Dr. Melanie Miller-Foster and Dr. Daniel Foster who presented her with the opportunity and were a great support system while in and out of the country.
Olivia leaves these words of advice for her peers:
“I urge anyone interested in an internship opportunity to travel out of the area or even out of their comfort zone to fully understand the benefits of what you are doing.  Growing my personal learning network (PLN) in a different county made my learning enjoyable."
Olivia is a shining star in the Penn State Agricultural & Extension Education Program.  Her passion helps create positive agents of change to make the world a better place.  Congratulations, Olivia!

To learn more about starting on the path to having a career that makes a positive impact on the lives of students across the globe by becoming an agricultural educator, please contact the agricultural teacher education program at Follow us on Twitter at TeachAgPSU, on Facebook, or on our blog.

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