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UK freshman agricultural and medical biotechnology major has big dreams of making positive impact


By Katie Pratt
University of Kentucky

Mary Kate Miller has big dreams of making a positive impact on Kentucky agriculture as a future elected public official and on the health of its residents as a future pharmacist.

Those dreams began while she was a Henderson County 4-H’er, and this August, the freshman agricultural and medical biotechnology major moved into a dorm at the University of Kentucky to start making those dreams a reality.

“4-H has always been my home outside of school,” said Miller, a student in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “I really enjoyed meeting and connecting with people across the state.”

While participating in 4-H, Mary Kate Miller learned how drug development often starts in agricultural research in plants and she set her sights on becoming a pharmacist.

While participating in 4-H, she learned how drug development often starts in agricultural research in plants and she set her sights on becoming a pharmacist. She also had a strong interest in developing her leadership skills.

Miller began participating in 4-H at 9 years old. Throughout her 4-H career, she held local leadership positions in the livestock club, horse club and served as president of the teen club. She advanced into regional and state leadership roles, serving on the Green River Area Teen executive committee, 4-H State Teen Council for two years, program assistant to the 2019-2020 state 4-H officers, and the Southern Region Teen Leadership Conference Planning Committee.

In these positions, Miller discovered she enjoyed public speaking, particularly about the many facets of agriculture that people don’t normally think of, like drug development. That’s when she developed the goal of one day running for Kentucky agriculture commissioner.

“When I got involved in state level 4-H leadership, I found my passion of showing people that agriculture is so much more than cows and corn,” she said.

When it came to choosing a college, the University of Kentucky was the only school where she applied. She received the Beauchamp Emerson Memorial Scholarship from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

“The University of Kentucky inspired me every summer, while I was here attending 4-H Teen Conference,” Miller said. “I always left UK wanting to learn more, and I knew if I were going to spend a significant amount of time away from home attending college, UK was where I wanted to be.”

She chose agricultural and medical biotechnology as her undergraduate major, as it is a common pathway for many undergraduate students to pharmacy school.

Mary Kate Miller has big dreams of making a positive impact on Kentucky agriculture as a future elected public official and on the health of its residents as a future pharmacist.

“During my time as her agent, I saw first-hand the impact that Mary Kate had on our community and our youth,” said Jeremiah Johnson, who was Miller’s 4-H youth development agent in Henderson County from 2014-2018 and is now a 4-H agent in Christian County. “As a county teen club member, she found ways to positively encourage younger 4-H members through lessons on leadership, communications and civic engagement.”

Having already earned an associate degree from Henderson Community College while still in high school, Miller is well on her way to achieving her dreams. Within the next year, she plans to have her prerequisites finished, so she can start pharmacy school next fall.

She also began participating in politics this summer, interning with two national level political campaigns.

“Mary Kate is very determined, and she sets goals and then develops roadmaps to ensure her goals are attainable,” Johnson said.

While she may no longer be an active 4-H member, she will continue to be involved with the organization. This fall she is interning with the Kentucky 4-H Foundation.

Rachel Noble, Kentucky 4-H youth development specialist, got to know Miller through her statewide leadership roles and said her creativity, dependability and determination stood out.

“Mary Kate is a vibrant leader and contributed in a dynamic way to our 4-H programs during her years as an active member,” Noble said. “I admire Mary Kate’s determination. Since I’ve known her, she has been focused on her career path and is working tirelessly to make her dreams a reality.”

4-H Youth Development is part of Kentucky Cooperative Extension. Its emphasis is for all youth to have opportunities for positive youth development in four guiding concepts: mastery, belonging, independence and generosity. Contact a county extension office for more information.

Katie Pratt writes for the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

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