ACM Student Spotlight: Maria Wingert

Maria WingertWhen senior Maria Wingert first stepped foot on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus, it was for the Minnesota State FFA Convention.  “The first time I officially toured the University of Minnesota, I had made up my mind already to attend South Dakota State University.”  Luckily, former U of M Ag Ed recruiter Melissa Norby convinced her to stay.

Maria grew up on a farm in southeastern Minnesota near Plainview.  She showed cattle through 4-H and FFA for over 12 years, leading her on her path to the U of M.  Grandfathering out of the old major, Maria will be completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Education with an emphasis in communications and leadership as well as completing her Professional Journalism major this spring.  “Melissa told me that if I started in Ag Ed, I could take it in any direction I liked.  And I did.”  Halfway through her sophomore year, she added her Journalism major and has had the opportunity to take the coolest combination of classes since then.  Without both of her majors, Maria feels as though she wouldn’t be half as prepared for her career to start nor would she feel as successful in so many areas.  “I thank CFANS for keeping me near my roots and the Journalism school for teaching me how to be persistent, independent, and open-minded.”

During her time at the University of Minnesota, Maria served as president of the student National Agri-Marketing Association team, in addition to participating as a member for three years.  She was also a fellow in the CFANS Mentor Program for two years, served as a member of the Ag Ed Club for a year and a half, and was also a member of the Beta of Clovia Sorority for four years.

In addition to being involved on campus, Maria also completed many internship opportunities.  Between the summers of her junior and senior year, she was the Corporate Communications and CHS Foundation intern for CHS Incorporated.  Following that, Maria was the Midwest Dairy Association's Integrated Communications Intern for the summer of 2015 and the Murphy News Intern that fall.  She also served as a student researcher for BBE and Dr. Rebecca Swenson, was the social media intern for two years during the Minnesota State FFA Convention, and also was a Minnesota Corn Growers Agvocate during 2014 and 2015.  Maria is currently a Public Relations intern with Broadhead Agency.

Maria’s favorite class at the U was Gayle Golden's Introduction to Journalism class, although she said it was the most frustrating, intimidating, and humbling semester of her life.  “Gayle has a knack for making you feel like you're the worst writer ever while forming you into a better writer than you ever thought you could be. Although I was terrified of her, that may be the reason I learned so much.”  Maria would also like to acknowledge Dr. Rebecca Swenson, who Maria says had a big impact on her career path.  “She gives me references and support when I need it, and basically makes sure I don’t drown myself with everything I get myself into. She's amazing!”

Although the idea of her dream job changes by the day, Maria ultimately would like to be in a role where she can tell the story of her family farm and others like her, in addition to writing.  Maria’s advice to incoming and current U of M students is to just make it work.  “You might not be qualified for an internship or think you can't handle another major, but I promise you'll figure it out. Have faith that ‘future you’ can handle whatever crazy stuff ‘present you’ is taking on today. Quit being scared you might be overwhelmed, or not good enough, or super stressed out. You might be, but that's how you get better.”

Maria’s Favorites:

  • Color: Blue

  • Song: “Finally Friday” by George Jones

  • Animal: Her dog, Brantley

  • Book: Anything that isn't a textbook

  • Quote: "Be the Leslie Knope of everything that you do."

  • Food: Pickles

  • Hobby: Really anything that lets her be outside. Hiking, biking, and farming are her favorites. When she’s in the cities, finding shops, cafes, and state parks she has never been to before is how she likes to keep busy.