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Feature

Rachael Dettmann.

Rachael Dettmann, center, credits scholarships and studying abroad for focusing her career direction.

Multiple rewards

Scholarships broaden graduate's horizons

From M, fall 2005

Rachael Dettmann, B.S. '05, launched her U of M career with high hopes of becoming both a flower wholesaler and a musician. A number of scholarships, including the Charles Lofgren Scholarship in the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, afforded her the opportunity to double major in music performance and applied economics. Little did she know how much those scholarships would change her life.

"The greatest opportunity I gained from having scholarships was the ability to travel and study abroad," says Dettmann. "Having no agricultural or floral background, I decided to study flower markets in Germany. It was a great experience, but I discovered there is not a lot of opportunity for [being a flower wholesaler] in the United States. I returned knowing I had to rethink my career."

Dettmann decided to stick with her applied economics major, but that forced her to face another tough decision. She loved playing the oboe and for three years had performed in the U's top wind ensemble, but since she felt compelled to explore a new career direction, she dropped music.

Dettmann signed up for a second session abroad, this time conducting agricultural research in Ethiopia. There she studied tef, a highly nutritious grain grown only in Ethiopia. It is the basis for Ethiopia's flat, spongy bread. The experience became the topic of her senior thesis and the inspiration for a new career direction.

After graduation last spring, Dettmann accepted a summer internship with Minnesota Crop Improvement working in the organic certification program. She says it has been good preparation for what she plans next. "I've been accepted into graduate school at the U and hope to pursue a joint degree in law and applied economics," says Dettmann. "I'm excited about the future and can truly say that the rewards I gained from scholarships are what changed my life."

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