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NMSU’s College of Ag Outstanding Senior is paving her path to success

“Everything just fell into place,” said Jacqueline Alford, graduate student majoring in ruminant nutrition, about her undergraduate years at New Mexico State University.

Last year, Jacqueline Alford was named Outstanding Senior of the College of Agricultural, Environmental and Consumer Sciences. (NMSU photo by Angela Simental)

Alford did not grow up on a ranch or spend much time with livestock until she came to NMSU after spending a year at Texas State University.

“I had gotten a full ride to NMSU and decided to go to Texas State instead,” she said. “But, after a year, I was not convinced. At that time, I received a call from NMSU, and I came to visit. I fell in love. After taking some courses, my career path changed – I never thought I would want to be a large animal veterinarian or work and research livestock.”

The El Paso native always had a plan: she would attend Texas State and become a small animal veterinarian, but as she learned, life doesn’t always work that way.

“One of the best moments of my career was realizing how passionate I was about research,” she said. “Dr. Clint Loest, in his courses, really sparked my interest in animal nutrition. He changed my outlook and opened my mind to a new avenue.”

Her undergraduate career didn’t come without a challenge. Like many NMSU students, juggling multiple jobs while having a full-time class schedule, dedicating time to study, participating in extracurricular activities and still having down time proves to be a difficult task.

“What sets Jacqueline apart is that she goes above and beyond what is expected to accomplish all tasks,” said Loest, professor of ruminant nutrition in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences and Alford’s mentor. “She is always giving 100 percent of her effort to everything she does. As a result, she is a student with all ‘As’ in her classes who still finds time to conduct research in animal science and participate in organizations such as the Animal and Range Sciences Graduate Student Association.”

Last year, her work ethic and dedication did not go unnoticed as she was named Outstanding Senior of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

She speaks for many students at NMSU who work and study. Her biggest challenge was balancing her multiple jobs, dedicating time to study, extracurricular activities and still having down time.

“Balancing my workload and research was difficult. I worked as a veterinary technician and taught ballet classes on Saturdays, but I am so passionate about those things and very determined to do my best,” Alford said.

Now, as a graduate student studying ruminant nutrition, her goal is to be a well-rounded animal science major, taking courses that will expand her knowledge about large animals beyond the established curriculum.

“I feel that I am where I am supposed to be,” she said about continuing her studies at NMSU. “Whether I choose to go to veterinary school or not, the education I received as an undergrad and now as a graduate student along with my professors’ support makes me feel confident about my choices and professional future.”