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CSU Stanislaus student heads to DC for future leaders conference | People

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CSU Stanislaus student heads to DC for future leaders conference
People, Schools

TURLOCK - CSU Stanislaus student Juan Vasquez reached a crossroads early in his life and took a turn that will now lead him and 23 other college students to Washington, D.C. this month for the USDA’s 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum.

Currently a junior in the Ag Studies program at CSU Stanislaus, Vasquez came to the U.S. with his family at the age of 2 and worked alongside his parents and other family members in the fields of Stanislaus and Merced counties. Dropping out of high school at 16 and faced with the prospect of minimum wage jobs and limited opportunities, Juan soon realized that his future would depend on decisions he made at that time. Juan returned to high school to earn his diploma and then entered Modesto Junior College, where he received an associate’s degree before transferring to CSU Stanislaus to major in Ag Studies with a concentration in business.

“I’ve always been good on the business side,” Vasquez said, “and I saw this as a way to transition from farm work to agribusiness and put my natural abilities and business talents to work.”

Vasquez was selected for conference participation based on the strength of a submitted essay and recommendations of instructors. “Juan is a remarkable example of hard work and perseverance,” said Dr. Mark Bender, chair of Agricultural Studies at CSU Stanislaus, who recommended Vasquez for the honor. “He has overcome significant obstacles in order to take advantage of educational opportunities, first at MJC, and now at CSU Stanislaus. We are extremely proud of Juan.”

This will be Vasquez’s first trip to the nation’s capitol, where the conference will take place on Feb. 24 and 25. Entitled “Today’s Strategies & Tomorrow’s Opportunities,” the Agricultural Outlook Forum is the USDA’s largest annual event, designed to encourage the next generation to learn so they might excel in their careers. Juan and his fellow students will visit the USDA building and tour Washington D.C during their visit.

Working and attending CSU Stanislaus full-time, Juan’s responsibilities include caring for a young son. At the present time, Juan is considering whether to continue on to graduate school after graduation. Regardless, he plans to remain in the Central Valley and put his talents to work here. “I’m very excited about this opportunity,” he says of the upcoming trip. “I’m not sure what the future holds, but I know that it is wide open to me.”

People, Schools