What made you join Alpha Zeta? Are you from the Central Valley? Have you always had a passion for agriculture?
Diggan: "I grew up in Sonora, CA, raising performance horses with my mom. I rode a horse before I learned to walk, and we raised all kinds of livestock, so I was lucky to be born into a ranching way of life. I moved to Fresno in summer of 2012 to attend Fresno State - I transferred from Columbia Community College (in Sonora). While attending community college and Fresno State, I also carried three rodeo queen titles: 2009 Mother Lode Roundup Queen, 2010 Driscoll Ranch Rodeo Queen, and 2012 Stanislaus County Sheriff's Posse Rodeo Queen. I've always advocated for ways to promote agriculture in a professional and positive light, and I appreciated that Alpha Zeta offered an outlet to network with other like-minded agricultural scholars. I thoroughly enjoyed engaging with the members of the club; there is definitely a welcoming culture in Alpha Zeta that compliments its strong morals very well. I also valued the fact that this club took the time to develop a level of professionalism in its members that many organizations skim over."
Since graduation, what have you been up to? Do you have a small business? Are you working for a Valley business or corporation?
Diggan: "Since graduation, I remained in Fresno and worked for Foster Farms for the past three years as a live production supervisor. I specialized in organic chicken production but oversaw all aspects of the chicken ranches I was assigned: ventilation/environment management, bird health, feeding programs, and employee management. I have loved working for Foster Farms, and am extremely grateful for all the opportunities I was presented with there. However, in December of 2017, I had an opportunity to return to Fresno State to earn my graduate degree while fulfilling the role of Equine Enterprise Manager. I now oversee the Quarter Horse Unit and Student Horse Centers and beginning in Fall, I will teach some of the basic-level equine courses as a student instructor while I work toward my Master's in Animal Science, focusing on poultry nutrition."
What is your advice to students approaching graduation? How can they prepare for life outside of college?
Diggan: "Something I had heard many times prior to and during my undergraduate studies was that the connections you make in school, and the activities you engage in addition to coursework, are extremely important. Especially looking back on the events following my graduation from Fresno State, I see how valuable it is to get involved beyond showing up to class. Many of the great opportunities I've had are thanks to the people I networked within school, as well as the work I did in addition to my class studies. Of course, being a good student is irreplaceable, but often times it's the extra effort you put in that others don't that sets you apart from the crowd. I think an important thing for recent graduates to keep in mind when transitioning to the workforce is that you're now getting paid to complete the work you do, rather than you paying for your education. You will need to continually prove your worth in order to maintain your role, and go above and beyond to show that you're worthy of a promotion (if you don't go to work for yourself). It requires more than completing assignments on time. Although this seems like common sense, the shift in culture can sometimes take recent graduates by surprise."
What are some of the things you learned or gained in Alpha Zeta that helped you make it to where you are today?
Diggan: "Building on my response to the previous question, I was surrounded in Alpha Zeta by members that were already proving their worth beyond their studies. They (we) were volunteering time and effort to make events and activities successful, things that weren't always awarded or recognized. But we all gained something so much more valuable than awards or recognition - the connections we made with each other (that will last long after graduation), and the knowledge of how to be productive and competitive in our careers."
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Thank you so much for your time, Ariel! We loved hearing how Alpha Zeta helped you get where your are today. We can’t wait to see what you will do next.
Stay tuned for more alumni highlights!