The Voice of CALS Students
Agribusiness major helps his college understand what students want
Austin O’Neill, 20, came to the University of Idaho knowing that he wanted to help people all around the world improve their businesses. But the sophomore discovered he wanted to help fellow students as well.
O’Neill, a Stanwood, Washington, native and agribusiness major, says he chose UI because of its great programs, but found he loved the research opportunities too.
O’Neill first discovered his project while working as a student success intern for the Academic Programs Office in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).
O’Neill is participating in a research project to determine what CALS needs to make the college better. Specifically, he is helping the dean decide if creating a scholars’ program for CALS students who have a GPA of 3.5 or higher would be beneficial to students. O’Neill says this project will improve not only this college, but the overall quality of the university itself.
“It’s making a difference in people’s lives and the college, and that gets me really excited,” he says.
O’Neill is looking at current and previous Dean’s Lists to see if the number of students coincides with the perceived need for a scholars’ program. He is creating a survey that will be sent to CALS students to help with determining if a scholars’ program is needed, as well as gather valuable insight into what UI students think about the university. The survey allows students to express their opinions about UI programs and how they feel they should be changed. This is a chance for students’ voices to be heard, O’Neill says.
While this research project is only in its beginning stages, O’Neill has decided that he would love to participate in another research project next semester.
Though he is only a sophomore at UI, O’Neill is already considering his options for life after graduation. He originally intended to get a job working with an international marketing team after completing his bachelor’s degree. Now he is also considering graduate programs to continue his education in agricultural economics.
“I want to help producers improve their productivity and business,” he says.
Writer: Charissa Chappell, a freshman from Twin Falls, is an English major with a literature emphasis. She wants to work in fiction publishing when she graduates.
Photographer: Heather Woolery-Larsen is a senior majoring in studio art and creative writing and is originally from Nampa. She enjoys photography, teaching Afterschool Art at UI’s Prichard Gallery, traveling and organizing art shows. Her website is www.heatherwoolery.com.