Jennifer Neal serves as the director of student services for the LSU College of Agriculture. She started at LSU as a freshman in the College of Agriculture, and has never left! She holds both her B.S. and M.S. degrees from the college, and has served as a Teaching Assistant for AGRI 1001, Introduction to Agriculture. Over the past 10 years, she has worked with students in a variety of capacities, but in her current role as director, she oversees the daily operations of the college’s Office of Student Services. She works closely with faculty in each of the college’s schools and departments to ensure that students are following the optimum path to graduation. She carefully monitors student progress, assists with questions regarding university and college policy and procedure, and coordinates graduation ceremonies each semester. She has three sons, Eli, Isaac and Cooper, who keep her very busy.
What drew you to LSU and the CoA?
On a whim, I applied to LSU as a high school senior, and my first time stepping on campus was at freshman orientation. I was undecided on a major, but quickly found a home within the College of Agriculture. From there, the pieces all fell into place, and I have been part of this college in some way ever since. After earning my bachelor’s degree, I entered a master’s program, and during that time I also served as a graduate teaching assistant for AGRI 1001. It was through that experience that I had the opportunity to learn more about all of the majors within the college, and the many opportunities available with a degree in agriculture.
What advice do you have for future students?
Ask questions! Whether you didn’t understand a concept in your biology class or you aren’t sure how to add a course to your schedule, always speak up. No one expects you to come in as a freshman knowing how to navigate all aspects of the university. That is why we are here, and we want to help. Your college experience is what you make it, and it will go by faster than you can imagine. Join a club, study abroad, attend extracurricular events! These experiences will not only reinforce what you are learning in the classroom, but will help you network. You will be more competitive when applying for jobs or graduate programs, and also will leave with an experience rather than simply a diploma. Finally, don’t be afraid to deviate from your plans. I can’t tell you how many students get to their senior year and say, “I always thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do, but once I got to LSU, I realized there were so many other options.”
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love when our students experience success, whether it is succeeding in a course they were nervous about, or overcoming obstacles to achieve their goals. Seeing a student go through the entire process from orientation to graduation is very satisfying.