UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As Bunmi Akintola, a senior in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, prepares for graduation this spring, she has spent a lot of time reflecting on her years at Penn State and how they have helped her find her purpose in the world of agriculture.
Akintola is majoring in biorenewable systems (bioproducts option) in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, with a minor in entrepreneurship and innovation. She cites her class experiences at Penn State as being one of the main things that helped her become more invested in finding a career, rather than just a job.
Looking back, she said, "A central theme of my entrepreneurship classes has been identifying your purpose. What value are you bringing to your company, what skills and talents do you have and how can you use them best? Once you find your purpose and why you want to do a particular job, it's easier to navigate the world and fulfill your goals."
The process started when Akintola began applying for colleges. From Lagos, Nigeria, Akintola said her decision to attend Penn State hinged on several factors, including the size of the town and the student body itself. She had been accepted to several American universities, but Penn State stood out. "I wanted to be at a quality university where the students were involved in and passionate about their school."
Akintola started at Penn State as a chemical engineering student but quickly found the major was not a field she that was enthusiastic about. In looking for a major that would fit her better, Akintola found biorenewable systems to be a perfect mix of science and business, fields that interest her. The classes allowed her to explore these interests in greater depth and discover new ones.
These interests have expanded into Akintola's extracurricular activities, too. During her time at the University, Akintola has been a member of the African Student Organization, a group that helps students celebrate cultural heritage, and a Penn State student Christian fellowship called Xia Alpha. She also is a member of the Ag Advocates, which is a team of student ambassadors who do many things to promote the College of Agricultural Sciences, including assisting with prospective student visits, open houses and other mentoring functions.
After graduation in May, Akintola is considering furthering her education at graduate school in order to strengthen her business background. She is very interested in companies that focus on sustainability and hopes that she will find a position where she can combine her business background and sustainability awareness.
"Having the interest and the ability to tackle sustainability issues will be very helpful in the workplace," Akintola said, adding that her business background will be advantageous when it comes to marketing and selling ideas.
For students following a similar path, Akintola recommends taking the time to think about your choices and understand why you are making them. "The discovery process doesn't happen overnight, so allow yourself the time and space to make changes and discoveries about yourself."