Integrated Plant Science MPS profile: Melissa Martens

About Melissa

What were you doing before coming to Cornell for your MPS program?

I was a buyer for a garden center.

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

I’ve never lived outside of California. So making the leap to move to New York was a huge decision! It was also a significant financial investment for me.

Why did you choose to pursue the MPS degree?

I felt that my current job had fulfilled what I was looking to gain from it and I was ready for the next step. I knew I loved plants and wanted to continue learning. Since I majored in Biology in undergrad and did not have a specialized education in Plant Science, I knew continuing my education was the next best step. I chose the MPS program because it is only a year long and is geared towards getting students back out into industry, rather than continuing in academia.

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

It's very flexible. We are able to build our own curriculum around what we are most interested in. This program also does a great job exposing you to lots of brilliant faculty members who can help mentor you during and after your program.

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

I really enjoyed forming friendships with the other students in my cohort. I felt I learned from them just as much as I learned from my classes, since everyone came from such vastly different backgrounds.

What are your short term and long term career goals?

Technical Sales Consultant for a biological control company. I think this program changed my life! I felt stuck in my professional and academic development before I came to Cornell, and did not know where to go next. Cornell exposed me to potential career options I never knew about, gave me the foundational knowledge to qualify for these positions, and connected me with valuable mentors to guide me on future career options.

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

Weed Biology and Management with Toni DiTommaso and Plant Disease Biology and Management with Kerik Cox.

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

Be brave! Take as many classes as you can, participate in different activities, and ask questions! You will end up managing everything just fine. Graduate school is not about getting perfect grades, but about learning as much as you can in this brief period of time, so don’t be afraid to push yourself.

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