The Fabulous Farmhand Physicist


By SAM MILLIGAN and DESTINY WALKER

A student stands inside a laboratoryThe laws of physics govern our natural world, so wouldn’t a student of physics benefit from observing these laws up close and personal for herself? The answer is YES for Anahí, a Berea College senior who loves working with livestock on the Berea College Farm as much as she adores studying the known universe in our Physics program.

Anahí came to Berea College from Dalton, Georgia, with a love for mathematics and zero experience with farm labor. This spring, she’ll be graduating with her bachelor’s degree in Physics (with a minor in Agriculture), a passion for working with farm animals, and a solid foundation toward pursuing her doctorate in Astrophysics.

A student holds a chickenThese dual roles have given her many valuable lessons. “Working as a team is so important,” she said. “Having multiple opinions is good for the outcome of the projects at the Farm, and this is also true in the lab. No matter where you go, nothing big happens on its own.”

Berea College’s focus on teamwork has led her to build significant connections with her co-workers, mentors, and farm animals. These friendships are what she says she will miss most when she graduates, especially with friends from different states and nations. “It will be hard to meet up,” she said, “but I hope to stay in touch with the ones that have become more like family.”

Perhaps most importantly, the College Farm is also helping Anahí carry forward a long-standing tradition of her ancestors: for ages, Anahí’s family has raised farm animals in Mexico, where her grandfather still tends cattle and two of her uncles also raise goats and horses. Even though Anahí’s zeal for Physics is unique among her family members, she is happy and humbled to know she can still connect with them through the tough and tender labor of rearing livestock.

She tells us she will always be grateful for the College Farm because, here, her family brings her closer to her work while her work also brings her closer to her family.

4 thoughts on “The Fabulous Farmhand Physicist

  1. Thank you so much for this article, it just shows that everything we do can be valuable to our goals and lives.
    Anahís interest in science and tending farm animals seem so different but we see through her story that they are part of the whole of her journey and the opportunity she engaged with while at Berea. Very inspiring.

  2. Anahi: I too am a Berea Physics Major (Graduated in 1951), but I never even considered working with the animals. I found your Physics major, Ag minor as an unlikely combination. Maybe my best parallel to it is that I had two roommates who were Ag majors, and I hope to see my old, old friend Professor James Grizzle-UNC Chapel Hill- again this March. But he switched horses so-to-speak when he was in ag grad school at Virginia Tech and ended up as a Statistics PhD and taught and researched in medical statistics at Chapel Hill, Research Triangle, and the Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. And another of my ag roommates (Bob Davis) was best man at both Grizzle’s and my weddings so long ago .

    Congratulations on your good work, and I hope that indeed you can become an astrophysicist!! Carl Sagan and Steven Hawking are both gone now, and I will hope that you become an equally deep thinker.

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