Clovis Community College alumni, Omar Abulghanam, was one of four recipients of the 2022 “Agriculture Scholars of the Year” award on Friday, May 6.
Award recipients received a $500 scholarship through the support of My Job Depends on Agriculture alongside the ag scholar of the year award presented by Assemblyman Jim Patterson.
Recipients of the “Agriculture Scholars of the Year ” included Jocelyne Juarez, Aalexias Woolf, Riley Barney, and Abulghanam.
In a tweet from Patterson, he described the recipients as an “impressive group of young people” and shared how “great” it was to honor four more Fresno State ag scholars.
“They are the future of agriculture and ready to face the challenges and possibilities of agriculture today,” Patterson wrote.
Abulghanam, who graduated with an Associates of Arts in business administration from Clovis Community College in 2019 reflected back on what it was like being able to use what he was taught in class and apply it to his work at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“So a lot of my classes that have been around like food safety, world hunger, and crop nutrition have focused in on how we can create agriculture as a global industry and then make food more accessible to people everywhere on Earth, even in climates that aren’t necessarily conducive for plant production,” Abulghanam said.
Abulghanam said that because of the time he spent learning from professors at Clovis Community college he was able to learn “an immense amount of business and foundational work,” because of the experience the professors brought to each lecture.
“The thing that struck me about going to the professors at Clovis Community College was how involved they were with the industry itself. A lot of my accounting professors were accountants, either previously before becoming professors or also, they were part time professors [who were accountants],” Abulghanam said.
Abulghanam said that because of the amount of support and knowledge the staff and faculty had at Clovis Community college, he felt “very supported” when he told his counselor that he wanted to make the switch from business major to plant science major when he transferred to Fresno State.
A decision that let Abulghanam meet his girlfriend, Paola Vidales Villicana, who he credits as his support system throughout his time at Fresno State.
Villicana, who is also a plant science major met Abulghanam in his first plant science class upon returning to campus for the first time since classes returned from online instructuction, Abulghanam said he would later find out that the couple had four out of their five classes together that semester.
Abulghanam said that having his girlfriend also be in the same major as him is a “relief” when there are times they will need help on work and will collaborate together to make sure each accomplishes their goals.
“She understands the things I’m doing, and I understand the things she’s doing,” Abulghanam said “ it makes it more fun, it makes it more enjoyable. I feel like I learned a whole lot more that way and I get proud to see her accomplishments,” Abulghanam said.
Every award won, Abulghanam said he personally views as an award won by the both of them because of their collaborative efforts throughout college.
Abulghanam said that he would like to thank the staff and faculty of Clovis Community College “from the bottom of his heart,” specifically the cafeteria staff where he remembers spending six hours a day studying and eating the food that he said was often times better than the food he would make at home.
“I would just stay there and eat the food and I became pretty good friends with the cafeteria staff and everybody was so friendly and welcoming. So thank you, definitely, to everybody there and I don’t think I would be this far along in my educational career if it wasn’t for Clovis Community College,” Abulghanam said.
Abulghanam is set to graduate this year and plans on enrolling in the masters program at Fresno State and will continue to work for the USDA.