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Mary Michael Lipford

M.M. Lipford

Embracing the unknown is Mary Michael Lipford’s approach to life. In fact, she said, “I say yes to everything! Curiosity to me means never being satisfied in a stagnate state. It means accepting that the more you learn, the less you know -- and not letting that discourage you but excite you to keep learning, asking, and experiencing.”

Mary Michael has two majors: Crop and Soil Science, with a concentration in International Agriculture, and Spanish. She also has a minor in Global Food Security and Health. Her studies have led her to work with farmers in Ecuador, conduct research for Senegalese communities where she will travel this summer to present her data, and address food insecurity in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia.

She recently accepted a position in Ghana, Africa. Starting in July, she will live in a rural village, serving as an agricultural extension agent, teacher, and 4-H club advisor, working alongside local educators.

Mary Michael said, “I cannot think of a better time than now to chase after this dream and experience. Virginia Tech has set me up for much success, but I am looking forward to learning first and foremost from the Ghanaian culture and people.”

Her nominator said, “In all of her service, she has confronted complex issues with her education and equitable inclusion, uplifting the voices of those she hopes to assist.”

Mary Michael described her passion this way: “I want to partner with farmers and youth to use sustainable agriculture to combat the growing threat of global food insecurity without damaging the environment. The next decade will be decisive in how these challenges are addressed with lasting solutions. I want to be a part of the change I wish to see.”

The recipient of numerous honors, awards, and scholarships, Mary Michael is also known for her roles outside of academics. She has been an Irish dance instructor, a member of the Student Life Council at Virginia Tech, a member of the Cru community, and an English as a Second Language tutor for the Virginia Tech Coalition for Refugee Resettlement.

Mary Michael, we stand in awe of the places your curiosity and initiative have taken you. Our best wishes on your continued adventures. It is my honor to present Mary Michael Lipford with the Aspire! Award for COMMIT TO UNWAVERING CURIOSITY.