Undergraduate Student Spotlight
"Who shall set a limit to the influence of a human being?" -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Jordan Bothern

Major: Mechanized Systems Management
Emphasis: Processing Operations
Current Employer: Nebraska Tractor Test Lab
Notable Activities: Social Chair Officer of ASABE, member of UNL Quarterscale- tractor pulling club, member of Delta Gamma, Nebraska Wheat Board Ambassador, and BSE Department Ambassador

What is one of your fondest memories of freshman year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?:

One of my fondest memories freshman year was to be on the UNL Quarterscale team and to go to the ASABE Quarterscale competition in Peoria, IL. I had a great time seeing how the competition worked and was excited to see how our tractors performed. Our team was made up of a variety of majors and with that came various skillsets, the captains did a great job of honing in on the strengths of all of the members of our team and organizing our projects into smaller group projects. The efficiency of the timeline of our tractor building process became more efficient, allowing us to focus in on areas that needed more attention. Also, not to mention Quarterscale to me is a place where I can learn and grow and be supported by friends, it is a great club to be involved in and makes campus feel more like a small town. I was honored to be a part of the 2015-2016 team and am hoping to continue on with the Quarterscale Team all 4 years. 

What do you like about your major?:

I have a unique story with this major because I decided sophomore year in high school, living in North Carolina that I wanted to come to school and either study Agricultural Engineering or a subset of that degree. I came to UNL and declared Ag Engineering, throughout the year I compared and contrasted the two degrees and ultimately decided that for my future and where I see myself going that Mech Systems would be the better option. It suited my interests and allowed me to explore various other realms that I did not see open to me before in the Agricultural Industry. I am excited to intern for Cargill this summer, as a Production Supervisor Intern, which is an opportunity that will help me grow in my education. To me, mech systems offers more hands on applications and allows me to be diversified.

What would you say about your professors?:

I absolutely love the BSE department. Moving from out of state, I was unsure where I would fit in or how ‘the college experience’ would play out for me. But I am happy to say it is in the BSE department where my professors and peers support me in all aspects; by challenging me to learn, grow and think outside of the box. Most notably, our department is smaller than some of the other departments on campus and I have yet to find a professor or faculty member who is hesitant to sit down with me and help me solve a problem or just get to know me. All of my professors are so supportive, and continue to say hi and ask me how I am doing even after the class ends and the semester moves on. The professors invest in you, just like I invest in my education and department. 

Why did you decide to major in AGEN, BSEN, or MSYM? Were there any activities in your life that made you interested in your major?:

I have always been interested in agriculture.  My family farmed for generations, and I have always loved learning about how processes work together. When I was younger, I would ride around with my great grandpas and look at the fields of corn.  As I grew older I wanted to really know how it felt to work on a farm and see a growing season from start to finish. Moving to North Carolina my junior year in high school and decided to go volunteer with a local strawberry farm, Gillis Hill Produce in Fayetteville, North Carolina. My ‘volunteering’ on the farm turned into a job, which came with learning and understanding how the whole farm ran and operated. I am so thankful for that experience and in addition to the appreciation for agriculture that my whole family instilled in me since a young age, drove me to learn more, which is why I chose MSYM.

I am a very hands on and visual person, and the major really lends itself to people who are looking for a job beyond college that encompasses managerial aspects of the workplace, understanding processes/ how everything is linked together, and hands on work. 

How has The University prepared you for a future career?:

The University offers a great opportunity for career advancement.  As a student, I have had the opportunity to work at the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab, which is a facility unique to Nebraska, and the only one of its kind in the western hemisphere. There I have learned a lot about the machinery industry, worked on tractors and helped solve daily issues that may arise. Also, as far as classes go, the University, specificallythe College of Agricultural and Natural Resources (CASNR), offers professional development classes. They offer AGRI388 and AGRI400 with Julie Obermeyer, the career development director, which helps you to tune your resume for the job search and learn about life after college from professionals. Also, the University requires you to fulfill ACE requirements for graduation; and, if taken properly, these classes will help you develop personal and professional communication skills.

What made your experience different from your classmates?:

 Being involved and getting to know people has made campus a lot more fun and interactive for me. There almost 26,000 students at UNL, and getting to know people within your interest areas really well helps to narrow down that number and make the experience of college tailored to you. I have decided to involve myself with a sorority, professional clubs related to my major, and a tractor club. Also, it helps that the BSE department is a very close knit group, so it makes my experience matter to the faculty and staff. As far as setting myself apart from my peers in terms of experience I would say getting involved outside of campus with the agricultural industry has made a huge impact on my education and network. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself and get to know other people.

Why should a student choose to major in AGEN, BSEN, or MSYM? :

I think that our department is what sets these majors apart from other majors the university has to offer. However, in terms of the majors themselves I would go online and get a feel for the classes you will be taking and how they could lead you to where you want to be in the future.

For me, I knew I was interested in agriculture early on so it allowed me to explore all of my options and ask questions! With AGEN, BSEN, and MSYM you will be diversified by the time you leave college. This is important because job descriptions give you a feel for the job but our department equips us with the tools to succeed in that job. AGEN, MSYM, and BSEN all have different emphasis areas and you don't really need to know your specific area of interest until sophomore year, but now is the time to start looking!

What advice would you give to high school seniors? Any specific classes they should take or clubs they should get involved in? :

Learn to be present. As millennials, we spend a lot of time preparing for the future.

Soak up those last few high school courses, learn to be present in class, pay attention and figure out what your learning style is. Enjoy those ‘last’ moments with your friends when you all have the same schedule, but learn to be present with them and learn about what makes your connection in high school so strong because that is what will carry on your relationship in college. Learn to communicate with your parents, and have those ‘adult’ conversations about money, renters insurance, saving money, working or not working, expectations for yourself and for them/ them for you, etc. It is vital to learn to communicate because in college it's a necessary survival skill; you will be faced with group projects, varying professors, different friend groups, etc.

Ask Questions. If you want to know something never be afraid to ask. Want to know about the school you are going to, find a contact number and ask. Confused on the first day of class, find another student or faculty and ask. Unsure of how to submit an assignment, which dining halls have the best food, how to apply for scholarships, what entertainment in town is the best, etc don't be afraid to ask.

Don't freak out. All plants grow if they have sunlight, air and soil; remember that. In college you need to have food in your stomach, a decent night sleep, passion and drive in your heart, and know how to be present: with those tools you WILL succeed, I promise. And If you don't succeed, try again, it's OK.

Take a deep breath, it will be here before you know it!