Q&A With Kaija Caldwell

Caldwell is a senior in animal sciences

Why did you decide to come to the University of Missouri and major in animal sciences? What do you enjoy about the program itself? The field of study?

I decided to come to Mizzou because it was far enough from home that I could create a new, unique chapter of my life but close enough that I could get there quickly if something were to arise and I needed to be home. After touring the Animal Science Research Center and hearing how much hands-on experience I would obtain working with animals in my classes, I knew this was the place I needed to be. Coming from the South Side of Chicago, I had never been around livestock animals prior to college. My classes allowed me to explore my curiosities by exposing me to different disciplines within each species handled. In addition to the genuine guidance and care from the faculty and staff, I was able to find my passion in equine science and most of all I enjoyed my learning experience in animal sciences.

How have you used resources in the CAFNR Academic Programs Office (student services, career services, advising, study abroad)? What was your experience like?

I have utilized CAFNR Career Services to strengthen my resume and enhance my LinkedIn profile to prepare myself for future interviews and networking opportunities. Honestly, the resource I’ve used the most is the magnificent faculty and staff in the CAFNR Office of Academic Programs. They have been so invested in helping me reach my goals during my time at Mizzou, while also creating a welcoming atmosphere where I felt right at home. I didn’t think I would meet staff members in college who would go so far as to check in with me mentally, too; that’s rare. I would not have been able to come this far without their support. I’m grateful for them allowing me to spread my wings and do amazing work for CAFNR.

CAFNR’s RISE Initiative encourages students to have a variety of extracurricular experiences during their time at Mizzou (Research, International, Service Learning, Experiential Learning). What parts of the RISE initiative have you taken advantage of so far, and which do you plan to? What have you enjoyed about these experiences?

I have been fortunate to take part in the Service Learning aspect of CAFNR’S RISE Initiative. I was a member of a CAFNR organization called Tigers for Tigers and we would visit and volunteer at different big cat sanctuaries and zoos throughout Missouri and neighboring states. The animal caretakers were always appreciative of our help with cleaning and fixing enclosures as well as preparing food and enrichment for the animals. It was always fun to get an exclusive, behind-the-scenes view of the big cats that the public doesn’t always get to see. I was also a Deaton Scholar my junior year. The program focuses on developing methods to tackle hunger and food insecurities while working with a group of fellow students. It was nice working with students of all different backgrounds and degree levels in order to find ways to eradicate hunger not just on campus, but around the world.

What has been your favorite activity or experience of being a CAFNR student?

My favorite experience being a CAFNR student is connecting with prospective students. As a CAFNR Ambassador, I’ve been able to share about my CAFNR experience with prospective students, while also giving assurance to their families that CAFNR provides a safe and inclusive environment for their child to learn and develop with people who truly care about their success. Personally, my favorite part of recruitment was being able to go back to my high school alma mater and speak to students about my work as a CAFNR student and ambassador. To be able to see the engagement in their eyes and smiles on their faces as I showed them images of my work in class was so rewarding. I was able to open a new door of opportunities for them they didn’t know existed, but now know are obtainable with the help of representation, which really does matter.