University of Illinois freshman Hannah Donoho is still pinching herself over being named one of the IAA Foundation's Top Scholars.
The 2013 Mahomet-Seymour High School graduate, along with two others in the state, will receive a $7,500 scholarship to help with college tuition, it was announced this week. Donoho's scholarship is one of 62, totaling $138,000, that the Illinois Farm Bureau's charitable arm awarded this year to students pursuing degrees in agricultural-related fields.
"I turned in the application not expecting anything," said Donoho, 19. "Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out I got such a generous scholarship. I feel completely blessed."
Donoho took a break from studying for final exams to talk about her farming roots, how she got interested in feeding the word and her trip to the Caribbean this summer.
Q: What's your major and post-graduation plans?
A: I'm majoring in crop sciences with a concentration in plant biotechnology and molecular biology. I'm planning on going to grad school for crop sciences, so that I can eventually do some sort of research. I have always enjoyed biology, so I knew that I definitely wanted to pursue something relating to it.
In high school AP Biology, we talked about genetic engineering in agriculture for a couple weeks, and I was hooked. The concept of being able to genetically improve a crop to produce more food for the world is ultimately what convinced me that a career in crop sciences was the choice for me.
Q: Do you come from an agricultural background?
A: My paternal grandparents — Carroll and Marilyn Donoho, of Paw Paw — are retired farmers, and my maternal grandparents — John and Juanita Ernst — still farm in Alhambra. My parents — Kevin and Brenda Donoho, of Mahomet — are members of the Farm Bureau.
Q: In addition to your career goals, your scholarship was awarded based on academic ability and leadership involvement. How have you exemplified this?
A: I have always challenged myself with difficult classes, and I try hard at everything I do. This hard work definitely has had a positive effect on my grades and my leadership involvement. In high school, I was the section leader of the Front Ensemble in marching band for three years, and my senior year I was a mentor to freshmen girls.
In college, I've tried to take on more involved positions in all of the clubs and organizations I'm in so that I can continue moving up and taking on more responsibilities.
Q: What extra-curricular activities keep you busy?
A: I am in Field and Furrow Club (Crop Sciences club), Sigma Alpha professional agricultural sorority, Phi Eta Sigma national honors society and I'm a UI Crop Sciences student ambassador.
Q: Any fun plans for the summer?
A: I will be working at Monsanto in Farmer City doing production research. I'm also going to Curacao for two weeks to study the biocomplexity of the coral reef and local culture of the island. This trip is through the UI's Chancellor's Scholars Honors Program.