As part of this week’s Career Focus series, Melissa White shares her journey from studying at Gurteen Agricultural College to becoming a distance course co-ordinator.
Melissa White began her studies in the agricultural field at Gurteen Agricultural College and is now teaching its next generation of farmers.
The Offaly native completed a level 5 Certificate in Agriculture from 2011 to 2012 before undertaking a level 6 Advanced Certificate in Dairy Management.
Furthermore, in 2013, she graduated from Dundalk Institute of Technology with a level 7 BSc in Agriculture before attaining a level 8 BSc (Hons) in Food Science and Agri-business in 2015.
Gurteen Agricultural College
White achieved a level 9 Masters in Education and is now a distance course co-ordinator at Gurteen Agricultural College. The college delivers agricultural courses such as the Green Cert to full-time, part-time and distance students.
Melissa is responsible for demonstrating and assessing practical skills in the areas of dairy husbandry, beef husbandry, soils, grassland management, farm business, applied livestock breeding and sustainability.
She liaises closely with the college’s staff, teaching classes on-site and online to full-time, part-time and distance students. Besides, she carries out practical skills, administrative duties, offers learning and IT support, correcting (exams, assignments, skills) and farm duties such as milking and day-to-day tasks.
“I like the challenge of managing a large intake of students every year, striving each day to offer the best learning experience through different teaching methodologies, practical skills, demonstrations and discussions.”
“The on-site days are a great way to get to know each student. I love to see students reach their full potential and progress through the course with more knowledge and practical skills than they started with.”
“Each learner is different, and the challenge is to cater to the needs of each and every student. I am with each student from the induction night through to graduation, and, therefore, I feel a huge responsibility to make sure each person has a fantastic experience throughout. It is a good challenge.”
Melissa thoroughly enjoyed working with Sara McDonnell from Volunteering Tipperary to carry out groundworks across two different sites, St. Annes and St. Cronans, who both provide services to people with disabilities in Ireland.
“I could see how the students pulled together to work and successfully achieve an incredible before and after transformation, and the satisfaction and pride it left in the students was wonderful to see.”
“It is something I am passionate about, and I will always remember it because of those groups of students and lecturers who attended both sites and made the day enjoyable. I look forward to carrying out more voluntary work with students.”
Melissa is ambitious, driven and family-orientated, but believes it is imperative to have a work-life balance.
Her motto is simple: take every year as it comes and keep upskilling through study or short courses.
Instead of focusing on new year resolutions, the Offaly native selects skills, short courses, or something she feels would benefit her and strives to accomplish it before the end of the year.
“Apply for lots of different types of jobs; if you have the interest and the drive, you will succeed. Employers and work colleagues will see this and help you along your journey.”
“My dad has always said manners will get you around the world. I agree with him; it is not just about getting top grades and being academic. It is nice to be nice, and it does pay off to be positive, kind, helpful and genuine.”
“My advice would be in all aspects of your life to surround yourself with positive people who will drive you on and want you to succeed, stay away from negative people who only want to keep you down.”
“My journey to date in Ireland’s agricultural industry has been exciting and nothing but positives for the most part.”
“From milking cows to measuring grass to lecturing and demonstrating to a wide range of students to attending events and being asked to give talks and presentations, I find it nothing but exciting, and it is my passion in life,” Melissa concluded.
Follow Melissa’s journey on Instagram.