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Luciana Jonkman

About Luciana

  • Field of study: Animal Science
  • Hometown: Oakley, CA
  • Fun fact: Bungee jumping is more interesting to me than riding motorcycles. I prefer baked goodies over candy bars any day.

What were you doing prior to your degree program?

I was milking cows in New Zealand and Australia for two years prior to joining the CALS Animal Science MPS program.

What were the biggest obstacles you overcame in order to participate in the MPS program?

First, I had to get accepted! Then I had to figure out what I could do to make a positive mark in the industry and give back to the department that gave so much to me as a student. 

Why did you choose to pursue the MPS degree?

It is important for me to be a life- long learner. During the internships throughout my undergrad years, I was encouraged to gain experience and taught that an additional degree in my field of interest would help me to gain credibility once I was in the market place. This was true, I found. Additionally, I learned so much more about what I knew and what I didn’t know once I took my first job.        

What were the strengths of your program, in your opinion? 

It’s so wonderful to develop your curriculum with your advisors. I was able to take courses from a variety of schools at Cornell while staying on track for earning my degree. It was incredible to sit in the many school halls from management to economics to language arts and animal science. This truly allowed me to prepare in so many ways for the career environment I was about to enter.

What were some of the most rewarding moments while in your MPS program?

One of the most rewarding moments was presenting my finished work to the panel of advisors. I don’t know if they remember it, but I sure do. I had no idea what I was doing. I had never done it before, but they helped so much, and I truly believe they had a positive impact on my future through this process.

What did you do after earning your MPS degree? 

Upon graduation, I took a position as a dairy nutritionist with a large international firm. After five years I started my own firm with two partners. Over the last 13 years, we have grown it to over 35 team members who now lead the global dairy nutrition and management-consulting sector. Also, I married, and together, my husband & I have started three other farming businesses that we own and operate in California’s Central Valley. These businesses have created about 50 jobs for our local community and have a tremendous impact on the local economy. We also have local high school and college graduates as well as international trainees join us for internships regularly. Exposing young people to the world of ag tech and ag innovation is so much fun for us!

How did your degree program impact your career path?

Through the MPS degree program I was able to learn from the leaders in the industry, gain exposure to the broad spectrum of disciplines in my field of interest and see how exciting and important the world of agriculture is to feeding a hungry world. The degree helped me see the science behind the decisions dairy farmers must make multiple times a day and how those decisions impact their ability to put raw food into the pipeline that will feed the world. It’s so empowering to fully grasp how the work you do effects the health and nutrition of so many people around the globe. It’s energizing and humbling all at the same time.  

What courses stand out as most helpful for your specific career goals?

It’s been 20 years since I graduated so specific courses, to me at this point, are not as important as the idea of being allowed to take courses from multiple disciplines. The business school of management, school of economics and school of language arts all fed into my well-rounded experience that equipped me to confidently enter into my career in animal nutrition and multi-business ownership.

What professional organizations are you involved in?

To name a few - Farm Bureau, KB Silage Safety Foundation, US Custom Harvesters Association, Central Counties Dairy Herd Improvement Association. I am sure a few others but I try to limit them because caring for my family is VERY important. These organizations are valuable but family is more important.

What advice would you give to your younger self embarking on the journey of graduate school?

Take more psychology courses! Everything happens through people. Nothing you do will be on your own - it will take a team.  Learning how to work with other personalities, in spite of your own, will be critical. Also, spend more time grasping and becoming fluent in Spanish because speaking Spanish allows you to communicate with, and more importantly connect to, the team you have around you. Connecting with people will be your biggest hurdle and language skills can equip you with an ability to quickly connect.

How did MPS experience changed you, both personally and professionally?

Oh, BOY! Well, bottom line, it empowered me to reach new, higher and more meaningful heights. The experience motivated me to do more, serve greater needs, push into risks with greater confidence and achieve many of my dreams and goals. The experience fueled my belief that nothing is impossible and that if you think it, you can do it! Just being among the giants on the Cornell campus was so incredible and such an honor for me and my family!