Why I Chose AEC

Guest Blog by Cameron Outlaw
Photos provided by Cameron Outlaw

As I sifted through the options for what was to come next in my life, I kept returning to the possibility of a master’s degree in leadership development. Upon starting my master’s, this program has met me with challenges, opportunities, and some great friends.

The program in the Department of Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC), with its specialization in leadership development possessed many attractive qualities, but the trilogy of healthy community, academic opportunities, and brilliant faculty practically made my decision for me. As cliché as it may sound, the department functions as a family; a diverse, high-caliber, high-performing family. The ample support from faculty and fellow students empowers me to tackle significant topics (i.e. ethical leader development in complex systems) with confidence. The unique nature of AEC exposes me to the intersections between leadership and agricultural communication, agricultural education, and agricultural extension. It is this type of academic opportunity that forms the foundation for creating complex solutions to problems facing the world today. The professors and staff of the department are top-notch academics and high-quality human beings. They intentionally spend their time cultivating sharp minds in classrooms and challenging current thought through their research.

A special part of my program has been working with my professor and friend, Dr. Tony Andenoro. He serves as my academic advisor and personal mentor. Tony trusts me and challenges me with planning events, leading trips, and teaching class – the style of learning that has produced real competency and passion in me. I have realized the power of being believed in through this program. Often, I would self-eliminate from a task or question my capability, but Tony, with strong conviction, encourages me to try hard and take risks. Tony, along with many of the staff and faculty in AEC, has opened my mind and heart to future careers and ideas that I never would have imagined. This program has aided in the transformation of my goals and the honing of my passions. It has been an honor to be associated with this outstanding group of people at the best university. GO GATORS!

Cameron Outlaw (left) serves as a Teaching Assistant in addition to taking his master's level classes. One of his classes (Challenge 2050: Global Uncertainty) took a trip to Cedar Key to study the environment and interpersonal mindfulness.

These two photos are of one of Outlaw's classes that he serves as a Teaching Assistant, Interpersonal Communication. One of the class sessions was held in the stadium of the University of Florida.