College of Agriculture

Jaime Valdovinos

Agriculture Business

Feeding a large family can be a daunting task. For agricultural business major Jaime Valdovinos, growing up as the 9th of 15 children in the Michoacán, Mexico city of Uruapan, farming food at home was simply reality.  

Although Uruapan provided primary education, Valdovinos left Mexico at the age of 17 to pursue an education in the United States. He moved alone to Windsor, California, where he graduated from high school and soon enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC). He initially majored in administrative justice, but it just didn’t feel right. With a background in sustainable agriculture and an interest in business, Valdovinos switched his major to agriculture. After a plant science faculty member at SRJC praised the agriculture program at Chico State and without even visiting the campus, Valdovinos enrolled and transferred here in 2016.

In 2017, a new door of opportunities was presented to Valdovinos when he was selected for the Student Track Scholarship to attend the 31st annual Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Conference in San Diego.

At the HACU Conference, Valdovinos attended professional development workshops and a career fair where he networked with large companies and met industry representatives. Among the representatives Valdovinos met was Willis Collie, the director of Outreach, Diversity, and Equal Opportunities with the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS).

“We talked for a while, and at the end he implied a possible position for me with the program. When I called to follow up to thank him for talking with me, he offered me an internship, and that’s when I knew I had stumbled across a life-changing opportunity.” Valdovinos said.

In the spring of 2018, Valdovinos followed the opportunity to Washington, D.C. His internship with ARS allowed him to serve as a liaison between agricultural companies and students in order to fill positions by communicating with universities. Once students obtain a position and apply to the HACU program, Valdovinos carries them through the onboarding process and continually checks in on their progress in their positions.

“It’s such a rewarding position to know I’m the one who brings these parties together and gives these students a life-changing opportunity,” said Valdovinos, now in his senior year.

Following the internship in Washington D.C., Valdovinos has continued to work for the agency while at Chico State, and he is grateful for the opportunity it has provided. Collie, his initial contact with the ARS, has since become a mentor.

On campus, he has been involved in the Society of Agriculture Managers club (SAM) as well as Agriculture Ambassadors, but he wishes he had more time to volunteer within the community. With hopes of attending law school in the near future, Valdovinos has put an emphasis on the importance of his studies and hopes to graduate with a 3.7 GPA.

When he’s not focusing on his academics, you can often find Valdovinos staying active, finding the newest hiking trail, or on the volleyball court. In 2017, he played on the Chico State men’s volleyball team, which ranked third in the nation after a triumphant season. When he’s not busy exercising, Valdovinos enjoys time with friends, visiting family, and a good action movie.

During his time at Chico State, Valdovinos has grown to most appreciate the faculty and their support of his success, specifically crediting agricultural business professors Kishore Joseph and Christine Carroll.

In recognition of his dedication to his academics, Valdovinos received the CSU, Chico Agriculture Alumni Scholarship and Golden State Farm Credit Scholarship.

Upon graduation, he hopes to gain further experience in the industry in order to apply to law school with a strong resume. In five years, he hopes to graduate law school and work as an attorney in agricultural law.

Being the first in his family to graduate from college, Valdovinos hopes his academic success can set an example for his younger siblings, nieces, and nephews.

“I’m proud to be a first-generation college student, and I want to be a role model and someone my family can look up to,” he said.