Laura I. Tavera Montañez
Department of Animal Sciences
Animal Sciences - Animal Industries
San Juan, Puerto Rico
2021 Distinguished Senior Award Celebration Program (.pdf)
2021 Distinguished Senior Award Recipient Poster (.pdf)
Laura Tavera Montañez was extremely proud when she received her internship offer letter from Purina. She was in Wisconsin, participating in the Midwest Dairy Challenge, when she received a call from the company, followed by an email with a copy of her offer letter. After struggling to find an internship within the dairy industry, but gaining valuable experiences along the way, she managed to land her dream internship. Getting that offer letter left her feeling incredibly accomplished.
Laura’s most rewarding experience was being a part of the winning team from this past year’s 2020 Ohio Dairy Challenge. The Dairy Challenge team was composed of four students who did not grow up on dairy farms. To Laura, this just proved that you do not have to come from a specific background to excel in the area of your interest. After four years of trying to continuously learn about the dairy industry, a multitude of her experiences came together for a perfect ensemble. It was immensely satisfying for her team to work through this competition together and come out victorious. When they released the results, Laura felt pure bliss, as she had achieved a goal she was extremely passionate about.
Laura recognized Dr. Jeffrey Firkins as her mentor. In her own words, “Dr. Firkins has really pushed me to be the best version of myself. He’s someone that I really look up to, and he has always been very clear on what his expectations are from me and sets high standards. I firmly believe that you’re never going to grow unless you push yourself and step out of your comfort zone. Dr. Firkins most definitely does that. He wants to see his students succeed. [He] and I get along extremely well, and he’s someone that I’ll always respect. He’s someone that I turn to whenever I need advice, and he recently helped me in figuring out what my post-graduation plans were going to be. We met weekly last semester to discuss research papers and post-graduation plans, and what we thought was my best fit moving forward. Luckily, I was able to sort that out with him! I’m extremely grateful for everything he has done. Working in his lab has been the best experience of my entire undergraduate career. The people that I’ve met, the connections that I’ve made, and the experiences I’ve had because of it are ones that I’ll hold close to my heart, long after I have graduated. Dr. Firkins has easily been the most influential person in my entire undergraduate career.”
After graduation, Laura hopes to begin her career in the dairy industry as a dairy nutritionist. She is currently in the process of applying for full-time employment positions.
Service, involvement, and accolades: Puerto Rican Student Association, president, secretary | Animal Science Community Alliance, vice president | Undergraduate Teaching Assistant | Buckeye Dairy Club | CFAES Learning Community | Neighborhood Services, Inc. Food Pantry Holiday Program, translator | Disaster and Humanitarian Crisis Relief, piloted three university-wide fundraisers aimed toward Hurricane María and earthquake relief efforts for Puerto Rico