In the Spotlight – Aryenth Mejia
Farmingdale senior Aryenth Mejia '13 has loved plants all her life. But it wasn't until she came to Farmingdale that she realized she could make a successful career among them, as well.
Aryenth (pronounced "Argent") Mejia lives with her parents and two younger sisters in Maspeth, Queens. She is happy to make the one-hour-each-way trip to Farmingdale for her Bachelor's in Horticulture Technology Management, which she hopes to complete by the end of the summer, 2013.
"Being near plants was just natural for me, so when it came to looking for schools, Farmingdale just made sense."
Aryenth was born here, but comes from farming on both sides of her family. Her mother comes from mountainous Colombia, where their family grows crops and keeps cattle, sheep and goats; and her father's family has a farm in tropical Honduras, where they grow bananas, lychees, and mangoes. Her parents have taken Aryenth and her siblings to one or the other, every summer, for years. She described how, in Honduras, there is a mango tree so tall "it towers over the house. Every time a mango dropped, on the tin roof, we would hear a 'thunk' and my two sisters and I would run out to be the first to get it." Aryenth's grandmother even showed her how to swing a broomstick to knock more mangoes down. "She'd say, 'When you get to be a certain age, this is what you do.'" Aryenth demonstrated a batter's stance.
Aryenth's studies at Farmingdale opened a door for her to a world of wonder. "Herbaceous 103, with Dr. Iversen, was about annuals and tropicals, and it took me back to my father's native country. To see people bring those plants here, and have them in their homes, was just so exciting for me! It's good to know that plants have a sense of beauty (for people) world-wide; it's not just me. People from Long Island, the city, all looking at a plant from tropical Mexico or Honduras – they all see the same thing: a tropical plant needs to be in your life!"
But Farmingdale wasn't all smooth sailing for Aryenth. At first, just managing her workload presented quite a challenge. "It was way more than I was used to." It was especially tough since, like many Farmingdale students, Aryenth took a full schedule of classes on top of working several jobs, including at the Queens Botanical Garden and the Highland Park Community Garden. "It took me a good year to adjust, and learn to coordinate my work schedule."
Another challenge came in the form of Herbaceous 204, where students were required to identify every plant by both its binomial (scientific) name, and its common name. "All those pine needles looked the same!"
But Aryenth persisted, and is now enthusiastic about both the teacher and the course. "Dr. Iversen is phenomenal, and it was an awesome class." In fact, Aryenth praises Farmingdale teachers in general, for being both "passionate and compassionate. They are passionate about their subject, and want to see their students grow. They give so much encouragement, that it's easy to do well."
After she graduates at the end of this summer, Aryenth hopes to continue on to graduate school. "With a PhD in Horticulture, I could do botany but be more scientific. I'd like to use applied science, and be artistic – get a space and design it into a garden, community garden, or yard." And no matter where Aryenth Mejia goes, Farmingdale will have given her the tools.