A second-year Ph.D. student in Food and Resource Economics, Meri Hambaryan has been recognized for her outstanding leadership abilities and contributions to the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences with a 2023 CALS Council Graduate Leadership Award.
“Receiving the CALS Council Graduate Leadership Award is a great honor, and I feel extremely humbled to be recognized for my contributions,” Meri said.
Meri is currently on the executive board for two UF student organizations; she serves as President of the Applied Economics Graduate Student Organization (AE GSO) and Public Relations Director of UF Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UF MANRRS).
“Being involved with these organizations has been an incredible experience for me,” Meri said. “I have been able to improve my decision-making, creativity, and conflict-resolution skills while also gaining connections with academic and industry leaders.”
As the President of the Applied Economics Graduate Student Organization (AE GSO), Meri leads the executive board team in organizing academic workshops and social activities for graduate students, overseeing and coordinating the work of the officers. She also represents AE GSO at UF Graduate Student Council meetings.
Some examples of events put on by AE GSO this year include workshops on topics such as reference management and grant writing, coffee social hours for networking between faculty and students in the department, and a pizza lunch and tour of the campus for new graduate students as part of their orientation in the Fall.
“Our team successfully recruited new students and organized various events, creating a welcoming environment for all graduate students,” Meri said.
As the Public Relations Director of the UF MANRRS, the university’s chapter of a national organization for undergraduate, graduate, and professional members that aims to represent diverse backgrounds and areas of study, Meri promotes the organization through social media and group messaging systems and coordinates with other members to generate relevant articles and other content important to the organization’s mission.
“My major goal is to increase the exposure of UF MANRRS and promote interest in the organization through effective marketing and communication strategies,” Meri said.
“What I enjoy most about my involvement is the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the community,” Meri said. “Whether it was organizing social events with my amazing team or collaborating with other groups to participate in community events.”
For graduate students new to CALS, Meri had this advice:
Getting involved in different organizations could be a great way to broaden your experience beyond academic pursuits. It gives you the opportunity to improve your leadership and communication skills, while also expanding your network, which may be beneficial for your future career. My advice to new graduate students would be to explore leadership opportunities, be active and make the most of your time in graduate school.