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Preston DeJong

About Preston

  • Field of study: Animal Science
  • Hometown: Hamilton, Texas
  • Fun fact: I am an Eagle Scout and love anything to do with the outdoors.
  • View Preston's LinkedIn profile

What were you doing prior to your degree program?

Prior to attending Cornell University and pursuing this degree that I am currently in, I attended Texas A&M University for my bachelor’s degree in Agronomy, graduating in the Spring of 2019. During the summer prior to attending Cornell, I attended the United States Dairy Education & Training Consortium (USDETC). The USDETC is a six-week dairy intensive program, located in the Southwest of the United States, designed to allow students from all universities and levels of dairy familiarity and interest to attend and learn about the dairy industry from industry leading professors, farmers, and industry people.

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

The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was convincing myself that I belonged at Cornell. Growing up, my parents had told my siblings and me how prestigious of a university Cornell was. They often looked at the studies performed and the research published and this influenced some of their decision-making on our dairy farm as the quality of the studies and industry-wide acceptance of the research. This made an impression on me when the time came to decide on which MPS program was right for me and my career. This impression made me want to attend Cornell and the MPS program, but it also made me question my abilities and belonging at Cornell, as well as whether or not I was capable of performing up to the standards of such a prestigious university.

Why did you choose to pursue the MPS degree?

What ultimately led me to pursue CALS MPS degree was my passion for the dairy industry, interest in learning, and the desire to continue my education in a university setting after earning my bachelor’s degree. Although I grew up in a family that is heavily rooted in dairy production and worked on the dairy throughout my childhood, I did not feel prepared enough to begin my career after earning my bachelor’s degree. I was looking at a variety of programs and universities across the United States and was not satisfied with many of the opportunities that I found. Many programs were longer than I was looking for and were more research based than my interest in production and business. When I learned about the MPS degree at Cornell in Dairy Business Management, I knew I had found what I was looking for. It offers a large amount of flexibility and opportunities to take a variety of courses in different schools in areas that interest me. I also built a strong relationship with a number of people in my college early on into my application process and that carried into my visit to tour the campus and learn more about the program.

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

A few strengths of my MPS program consist of the flexibility of my degree, the networking opportunity, and the timeliness of the program. The program that I am enrolled in allows me to take classes that I believe will be beneficial to my future and I am able to tailor it to my interests, regardless of the college that the course is offered in. This gives me the ability to not only learn about dairy production, but to also study business strategy, human resource management, financial accounting, and organization management. The next strength of my MPS program includes the networking opportunity. I have had the opportunity to form meaningful relationships with faculty members, industry professionals, alumni, fellow students, and many more due to my MPS program. Additionally, due to the program only being one year, you must make the most of the time you have. It makes you focus on your classes, getting the most you can out of networking opportunities, and forces you to use your time wisely. I pay attention and take detailed notes during class so I can network, work towards achieving my goals and just have fun outside of classes.

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

Some of my most rewarding moments have been the friendships and relationships that I have formed, the things I am learning in class, the conversations that I have had, and the successes that I have achieved so far. My entire MPS experience has been very rewarding and I could not be happier with my decision to attend Cornell and pursue my MPS degree.

What are your short term and long term career goals?

My short-term career goal is to find and accept a job in the dairy industry or an industry that serves the dairy industry. I hope to be able to use what I have learned from the degrees that I have earned and take on a role that includes a high level of responsibility with the opportunity to work alongside and learn from industry professionals. My long-term career goals include aiding in the growth and success of the family businesses, managing and owning my own dairy farm, earning leadership roles within the dairy industry, and aid in agriculture education. 

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

Thus far, the courses that have been most helpful include Financial Accounting, Managing & Leading Organizations, Leaders in Family Enterprise, Business Strategy, and Dairy Management Fellowship.

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

Some advice that I would give to my younger self embarking on the journey of graduate school is that there is no need to settle for a school or a program.  There are opportunities everywhere, you just need to find them. I would also advise my younger self not to doubt my own abilities or capabilities, especially when passionate about what I am pursuing.

How has your MPS experience changed you, both personally and professionally?

My MPS experience has changed me both personally, and professionally, by the way that I treat my day and value my time. It has developed my outlook on a variety of topics and it has aided how I interact with people, the quality of conversations that I have, my increased curiosity and ability to ask questions. It has also increased my passion for the dairy industry. I am now, more than ever, certain that I want to pursue a career in dairy and I look forward to helping those who work tirelessly to feed and clothe the world while acting as stewards to their cows, community and the environment.

What professional organizations are you involved in?

The professional organizations that I am involved in currently are: 1) Alpha Gamma Rho – National Professional & Social Agricultural Fraternity 2) Cornell University Dairy Science Club (CUDS) 3) Cornell University Animal Science Graduate Student Association (ASGSA)