Seed World

How a Scholarship Transformed Ammani Kyanam’s Career

The National Association of Plant Breeders (NAPB) recently hosted its annual meeting in Greenville, South Carolina, bringing together professionals dedicated to advancing plant breeding. Among the attendees were Borlaug scholars, individuals selected through a program designed to nurture the next generation of leaders in the field.

In a conversation with Ammani Kyanam, a Borlaug scholar from 2020 and currently a corn product placement specialist at Syngenta, we explored the significance of the Borlaug scholarship in her career and the lasting impact it has had on her involvement with NAPB.

The Unique Experience of a Borlaug Scholar

The Borlaug scholarship, a prestigious initiative supporting the attendance of future plant breeding leaders at the NAPB annual meeting, has proven to be a transformative experience for her. Reflecting on her scholarship year, which coincided with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, she shared that the meeting was virtual, denying her the opportunity to physically attend. However, the structured mentoring provided by the program and the supportive cohort made a lasting impression, laying the foundation for her continued engagement with NAPB.

From Scholar to Professional

Three years after being a Borlaug scholar, Kyanam remains an active participant in the NAPB community. She emphasized the honor of becoming a Borlaug scholar and the invaluable mentoring she received. She credits the program for providing her with confidence and guidance during a critical time in her career when she was navigating job applications. The close-knit cohort of fellow scholars, despite being virtual, played a crucial role in supporting her journey.

The Power of Networking and Mentorship

Kyanam highlighted the strong support system within the NAPB community and how her connections, forged during her Borlaug scholarship year, extended into her professional life. Even during her job search, she received assistance from fellow Borlaug scholars, underscoring the enduring bonds formed within the program. She emphasized the mutual benefit of mentorship, expressing gratitude for her mentor and emphasizing the infectious enthusiasm of the graduate student community.

A Glimpse into her Current Role

At Syngenta, her role involves evaluating pre-commercial hybrids in regions where specific relative maturity groups are predominant. Working with a vast country like the United States, Kyanam and her colleagues play a crucial role in ensuring comprehensive coverage and assessment of corn hybrids.

Encouraging Future Participation

For those considering applying for the Borlaug scholarship, she suggests that students nearing graduation, approximately two to four semesters away, are in an ideal position to benefit from the program. She encourages potential mentors to volunteer, highlighting the rewarding experience of helping someone transition from student to professional and the unique opportunity to tap into the infectious enthusiasm of the younger generation.