Women in Ag Science Team
Meet Sofía González-Martínez, Horticulture Graduate Student
Updated: Oct 15, 2020
Driven and auto-proclaimed crazy plant lady, Sofía González-Martínez shows her passion for agriculture through her journey of self-fulfillment.
I am a Horticulture graduate student at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez Campus. I am currently researching the effects of different biostimulants and plant growth promoters on two varieties of pomegranate and see how this could contribute to the organized production of the fruit on the island.
However, most of my work entails the maintenance of fruit orchards such as pineapple, mango, breadfruit, avocado, passion fruit, and pomegranate. I am lucky to work in such a great group with other strong females that love agriculture. I also have worked as a TA for the Ornamental Horticulture course for the last three semesters. Being a TA has opened my eyes to the possibilities of teaching as a career.
· What made you choose this discipline?
My journey with agriculture has been full of obstacles and detours. I’ve always been an overachiever since grade school and particularly good at math and science. My school advisor, influenced by the old way of thinking, suggested me to choose a STEM career, be it Engineering, Biology (with plans for medicine), or Chemistry (with plans for pharmacy). I picked Chemistry, but after two semesters, I knew it wasn’t the field for me, so I had plans to change my major to Biology. One of the class requirements was Botany, which I ended up taking my third semester of College and this opened my eyes to a career filled with plants. Horticulture was the major that stood out to me since I was thoroughly interested in the process of growing plants and the science behind it.
· Have you experienced any difficulties or issues in the work space? How did you overcome this?
This being a male-dominated field, I’ve always had the struggle of not being viewed as good enough. For example, whenever I’m working in the field, I’ll get comments about offering lighter weighing equipment or stuff like that.
Some comments made by older male individuals can really take a toll on my mental health and heighten the imposter syndrome I sometimes feel as a grad student. I’ve found that the best way is to ignore them or prove them wrong.
I’ve also found that journaling and yoga helps keep me in check when these negative remarks are at bay.
· Are there any outstanding experiences that have positively impacted you?
No one in my family is a farmer or works in anything related to agriculture. However, my passion for the outdoors and flowers were inspired by the gardens of my childhood, strictly speaking, that of my grandmother’s. I’ve always tended to plants but never thought of it as a serious career until my second year of College when I switched my major. Rapidly joining the Student Association of Horticulture, reaffirmed my passion by finding individuals that shared my interests and came from similar backgrounds as me. This happened to be extremely important since I had the notion that most people that studied agriculture at that time did so because of their family, and felt a bit of an outsider when I first transferred. Joining the association changed my mind, and throughout other experiences, such as summer internships, I grew to love agriculture.
· Do you have a piece of advice you wish you had when you started your journey?
As cliché as it may sound: focus on what you’re passionate about and not what society expects you to do.
· What else are you passionate about?
I am a crazy plant lady. I love keeping plants in my apartment and seeing them grow, particularly succulents, cacti and interior plants. I also love to read, keep a journal, and do yoga. Cooking is another hobby I’ve grown passionate about lately.
· What are your future goals?
My current goal is to graduate and obtain my Master’s. This last year has made me realize that I need a break from Academia since I’ve been working nonstop for seven years.
I’ve always dreamed of having a business of my own, so there’s no way but up.
· What would you like to say to young female students out there?
My advice is not to get discouraged about studying agriculture. It may be hard at first, but it is literally the study of how to grow and produce the foods we eat every day. Therefore, it is worthwhile the long hours in the field under the heat and drastic climate changes.
· Where can people find you?
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also find me on Instagram and Twitter, @nidoranita.