Student Spotlight: Illan Sweitzer
As a department scholarship recipient, Illan not only excels in his studies, but he continues to give back to the department through his leadership and service. He serves as a source of inspiration and encouragement to his peers through hard work and a high level of commitment.
“Actions always speak louder than words,” says 2nd year undergraduate student, Illan Sweitzer, senior in the Food and Resource Economics Department studying Food and Agribusiness Marketing and Management.
Born in west Africa, Illan lost his parents at a very young age. After living with his aunt for most of his childhood in the Ivory Coast, Illan moved to Gainesville, Florida as a high school student and graduated from The Rock School. During high school, Illan lived with host families until he was adopted by an American family in 2011.
“I was able to grow as a person because of the families that hosted me and my adoptive family. They receive a lot of credit for the person that I am today,” says Illan.
After completing an Associate of Arts degree in Accounting at Santa Fe College, Illan was drawn to the Food and Resource Economics Department by a friend who had numerous positive experiences as a student in the department.
“I knew this was a place where I could learn a lot from teachers that would challenge me and were committed to my success,” says Illan.
In Spring 2015, Illan was elected as Ag Econ Club President by his peers. Through his leadership, Illan became an ambassador for the department. He regularly encourages students to take advantage of all the professional development opportunities available. Just this year Illan has participated in professional development opportunities including:
- National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) Competitions
- Field Trips through the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Career Pathways
- Community Service Projects including serving food at the Gainesville Fisher House
In addition, Illan regularly represents the department at events including the UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) TailGator event held in September.
In his spare time, Illan enjoys studying motivational books. He especially enjoyed reading, The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.
“The Compound Effect is about the little choices that we make. It talks about how little choices, when compounded, can work for or against you. It is always the little choices that compound to create big issues. I have applied this principal in everything I do - from what I eat to who I surround myself with,” he says.
Since becoming a student in the department, Illan seeks out every opportunity to “learn from winners” in their field. He is thankful for the mentorship and guidance from faculty members especially Ms. Jennifer Clark, Senior Lecturer and Ag Econ Club Advisor and Dr. Mikael Sandberg, Lecturer and Undergraduate Coordinator.
“My goal in life is to give back to others and not take any opportunity for granted.”