Marta Stewart '16
Advanced Horticulture Master's
Marta Stewart spent most of her life climbing the corporate ladder in the business world, but the lure of the great outdoors convinced her to pursue a new career later in her professional life.
At age 55, Stewart began work on an advanced horticulture graduate certificate through Kansas State University Global Campus with the hope of running her family's farm in Harper County, Kansas.
Stewart excelled in her classes, finishing with a 4.0 GPA. The 12-hour program gave her the freedom to take the courses that were most interesting to her. With her certificate in hand, Stewart is ready to explore a new career in horticulture as she continues her education.
Advanced Horticulture Master's Student Experience
What interested you in the advanced horticulture graduate certificate?
"We have a family farm, and it's been in our family for four generations but nobody seemed really interested in managing it. So that piqued my interest. I have a degree in economics and finance from Texas Christian University, but I didn't think I could do a good job without learning horticulture. So that was my motivation, as well as the fact that I'm really interested in growing microgreens for a more eco-based farm system.
"I have four sons, and my last son, Robert, is a senior at K-State. I just really felt like it was now or never for me to do this. And I really love the soil and the smell of grass and being outside, and I always worked in an office. It is something that was really dear to my heart that I wanted to do."
Were there any professors or advisors that went above and beyond to help you?
"My advisor was Kim Williams. She channeled me into classes that really focus on production of plants, which is my interest. In addition, Yong-Cheng Shi really encouraged me, because I was a little bit anxious about going back to school given the fact that I was 55 when I started. And honestly, all the kids here have been great. I've really enjoyed the fact that I have a lot of business experience, and so I can give back to them and contribute in the class discussion some of my life experiences."
What does finishing this program mean to you?
"It means a lot because it's been a long time coming. Just the fact that I was able to come back and do this and do really well at it has really meant a lot to me. My son, Patrick, graduated from K-State with a degree in physics, mathematics and statistics. He didn't know if I could do the chemistry, so I showed him that I could.
"My kids have always seen me as a mom and also as a business person. But seeing that I had the courage to come back and do something different at age 55 and make a success out of it has deepened their respect for me as well as our relationship."
Do you plan to continue your education?
"Because of my age and my previous coursework, I actually couldn't get into the master's program, so I had to do the certificate program. Since I've been doing the certificate program, I've had a 4.0 GPA. So since everything's been going so well, I applied to the horticulture graduate program with an emphasis in urban food systems. I'm planning to complete my master's and then possibly get my doctorate."