Tarleton commencement speaker to share passions for teaching and soil

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STEPHENVILLE — Lauren Selph is passionate about soil.

In fact, she is headed to West Texas A&M University to teach others about it.

First though, she will graduate with her master’s degree focused in soil science and make the keynote address at Tarleton State University commencement exercises at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13, at Wisdom Gym in Stephenville.

After earning her bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State, the Allen native came to Tarleton to take advantage of a program to continue her education.

“The program at Oklahoma State was very crop-heavy,” she said. “I wanted to balance my skillset and Tarleton was the perfect place to do that.

“Tarleton gave me opportunities to experience multiple facets of my discipline. I was exposed to diverse aspects of teaching and research which ultimately governed my career path.”

Lauren was a founding officer of the Tarleton Environmental Society and part of Paradigm Ministries at First Baptist Church in Stephenville. She earned the Graduate Student Leader Award, given for making a difference on campus while balancing education, professional and personal life, and took first place at the American Society of Agronomy meeting with a presentation in San Antonio in November.

Attendees at Friday’s graduation ceremony can expect to hear Lauren talk about overcoming barriers.

“I have both hurdled and painfully climbed barriers during my graduate career,” she said. “Graduate school is hard. All of my fellow graduates have faced obstacles and graduation gives us the opportunity to celebrate the fact that we conquered them. We now stand on the other side of them a stronger and better version of ourselves than when we started.

“That’s the message I want to convey. We are not the same people we were when we started this journey. The obstacles we have overcome allowed us to develop our passions and refine our strengths.”

She wants to use her personal passion for soil sciences and improving global food security to share her message.

“Soil science is quite literally the foundation of all other aspects of agriculture,” she said. “I dare my students to think of one aspect of their lives that does not somehow relate back to the soil.”

She does not plan on stopping her educational trek just yet. Doctoral studies are in her future, but teaching is at the top of her immediate agenda.

“Teaching is what I am passionate about,” Lauren said. “I have conducted the research but I look forward to teaching. Helping others to gain an appreciation for the soil is where my heart is.”

As a graduate student at Tarleton, Lauren instructed nearly 175 undergraduate students in soil science, composting and agronomy. She looks forward to continuing to share her passion with the next generation of students.


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