Meet 2016 RFLF Scholarship Recipient Alondra Valle
We recently had the opportunity to interview Alondra.
Q: Congratulations on your recent graduation from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo! Where are you now?
A: After graduating from Cal Poly, SLO I joined Land O’Lakes full-time in the Purina Animal Nutrition business unit. I spent my first 6 months at a feed mill in Turlock, CA as a Purina Management Manufacturing Tract Associate. This allowed me to learn the feed manufacturing process from start to finish. I shadowed operators and supervisors to understand the importance of their roles in making high quality feed and ensuring it is safe for consumption by the intended species.
In January 2022, I moved across the country to take on my current role as Quality Production Supervisor in the Guilderland, NY feed mill.
Q: How do you think your continued education changed your life /or is helping you achieve your dreams?
A: Pursuing a bachelor’s degree without a doubt changed my life. As a student, I was presented with many opportunities to network with professionals in different industries across the country. It has helped me secure a well-paying career that I enjoy and allowed me to venture out on my own. It brings me great relief knowing that I am financially independent and can now make investments to help accomplish my goals of owning a home and traveling abroad.
Q: Can you share a little about growing up in Ventura County. How did your experience shape your career goals?
A: Growing up in Ventura County I was surrounded by agriculture, but was oblivious to it until I was a freshman at Santa Paula High School and sat in Mr. Flores’ classroom. Mr. Flores’ passion for agriculture was contagious, it didn’t take long for me to know I wanted to pursue a career in this industry. The experience that inspired me most to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science was raising livestock for the Ventura County Fair. I really enjoyed working with animals and wanted to continue to do so. Though I don’t work directly with animals today, my love for them remains and I know I am making an impact on their health by ensuring the feed that leaves our facility is safe for their consumption.
Q: What impact did CEDC and the Rodney Fernandez Leadership Scholarship have in your life?
A: The Rodney Fernandez Leadership Scholarship helped alleviate the financial burden of pursuing a college education, allowing me to be a full-time student and not worry so much about paying for essentials.
Q: What kept you driven to succeed? What support network made a difference in your academic life?
A: I had an incredible support network back home in Santa Paula, and on campus at Cal Poly. There were times when I wondered if it was really worth the struggle to finish up my degree and it was their reminders of the big picture after graduating that motivated me to stay and earn my degree. Even when I made the incredibly tough decision to take a break for a few months and move back home, they were supportive. My family constantly reminded me why I had chosen to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the first place and that helped me re-focus to do well in my classes to meet the requirements to graduate.
Q: What would you tell other youth about pursuing their dreams and attending college or a vocational school?
A: As cheesy as it sounds, follow your dreams. I used to not understand what people meant when they said that continuing your education opens doors for you, but I do now. From my experience, going to an educational institute beyond high school does present you with more career opportunities. However, it’s not in the way you may think. I was presented with networking opportunities, and it was up to me to make the most of my time as a student and take advantage of those opportunities. My advice is to attend career fairs, leadership conferences, and industry events. Introduce yourself to new people and ask questions about the company/institution, their job, or internships available. Being inquisitive will lead you far and present more career opportunities. It will also help you learn what careers interest you and which ones don’t.
Q: What would you like to say to people who support and donate to the RFLF?
A: Please continue to donate. This scholarship fund does make a difference. Financial aid from the federal and state government does help students pay for tuition, but it doesn’t cover everything. Many students work part- or full-time jobs to pay for housing, meals, and other necessities. Scholarships like this one allow students to worry less about working enough hours to pay for expenses and instead allows them to be present in the classroom and have sufficient time to study outside of the classroom.
Q: Why are donations to programs like RFLF so important for youth and our communities?
A: Donations to programs like RFLF are important for youth and our communities because it helps them make the decision to attend an educational institute beyond high school. If I did not have the scholarships I had, including this one, I would not have attended Cal Poly, SLO.