"Hi."It was a simple word that caused an unexpected turn in the undergraduate career of sophomore Micah Scanga. His first two years at the University of Florida (UF) were not spent in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, and Scanga was struggling to connect to his studies. That is, until he wandered into the office of former academic program specialist Jodi (DeGraw) Modica, who turned around and greeted Scanga with a simple “Hi.”
“It’s weird and cliché,” said Scanga, “but it really took me back. This was one of the first times someone stopped what they were doing and seemed excited to teach me about their program. It was the first time I felt a personal connection and the more I learned, the more I liked.”
Scanga’s collegiate career was a positive developmental experience for him, but he realized, while what he learned in the classroom was important, the power of connection was something that grew with him even more. AEC provided Scanga with many personal connections that would last far beyond his commencement ceremony.
Scanga grew up just north of Tampa, Florida, one generation removed from agriculture. Both of his parents were involved in the agriculture and natural resources industries and Scanga had an interest in agriculture, but he started his undergraduate career at UF with a different major.
“For a student who spent most of his first two years with 2,000 kids in a lecture,” Scanga said. “There was a personal touch missing. I was struggling with connecting to the materials and professors.”
After a change in his course of study, Scanga settled into his new coursework. This may have been important, but he found something else that seemed to be very formative in his undergraduate experience: student organizations.
“I was very involved in my fraternity (Alpha Gamma Rho),” Scanga started. “Between that and Florida Blue Key, I realized that I was forming people skills and personal relationships that were developing me as a student and as a person.”
He attributes his development in communication and leadership skills to the connections he made in his student organizations. In graduate school, Scanga worked with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) Ambassadors and the CALS Dean’s office, which only enhanced those skills further.
As Scanga started to pursue his master’s degree in AEC, specializing in leadership development, a few new personal dots started to connect. He built close relationships with the faculty he worked with, befriended and collaborated with some of the other graduate students, and then met someone else. Today, he calls her his wife (and she is also one of our AEC alumni).
“We met in Dr. Osborne’s proposal development class,” Scanga said, chuckling at the irony. “But, we didn’t start dating until the last few months before graduation.”
This relationship remained with Scanga through his first job, and together, they took a chance and moved to the state of Washington together.
Today, Scanga works for Syngenta in a retail representative position. There, he represents his company to channel of retailers, distributers and growers, while working in an area surrounded by over 50 agricultural commodities flourishing.
“There has been one theme in my life,” said Scanga. “I am one lucky and blessed guy, and I have had a great community of people get me here.”