Featured Scholar: Susan Peters

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Featured Scholar: Susan Peters
Watson, Sara
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
University of Florida
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Featured Scholar:
Susan Peters

2000 - 2001 University Scholar
Mentor: David Sutton

the U.S. Department or State and lived overseas since
1979. She and her husband have worked at the American Embassy in Kuwait, Morocco,
North Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. Susan says she enjoys the entire overseas experience,
especially the people. "In the Middle East, we met a real mix of cultures due to the
number of expatriate laborers employed by the Arab cultures. Kuwait was unique in light
of the subsequent Iraqi invasion in 1990. Doha, Qatar was probably my favorite tour. It
is a very small country on the Saudi coast with a small American Embassy and a close-
knit community of people from different cultures. I was fortunate to work in Doha for five
years as the Administrative Assistant at the American International School where we had
students from 24 different nationalities'"

The family transferred to the State Department regional office in Ft. Lauderdale six years
ago, and Susan became intrigued with the fascinating flora and fauna of Florida. She had
also read about the UF satellite campus near Ft. Lauderdale and began taking courses in
the spring of 1996. "My decision to attend UF was based largely on interest, however,
flexibility was also important for me. The Ft. Lauderdale facility is a full-fledged research
center, but also a teaching institution that caters to more 'mature' (meaning older')
students that are geographically excluded from land grant universities."

The Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center is run through the Institute of Food
and Agriculture Sciences (IFAS) at UF. It was established in 1984 and began offering
degrees in 1990. Current programs include turfgrass science, entomology, and
environmental horticulture. Student enrollment is usually 75-80 students per semester,
and the average student age is 36. Susan says most of the students are working
professionals, although some are looking to establish different careers - such as herself.
"The program offers us the opportunity to be a Gator, and we complete the required
coursework at our own pace and, ultimately, earn a degree. It's been a long-haul, but a
wonderful experience."

Susan, along with eight others graduate in May 2001, and Susan is headed back to
Arizona, planning to do landscape design work using desert vegetation. She says being a
student of "non-traditional" age has its advantages. "For the first three years of my
attendance at UF, I was employed full time as well as attending school and caring for a
family. It was extremely difficult, and I took night and weekend classes and even a long-
distance education course. Given the opportunity all over again, I would have completed
my degree back in the 1970s when I was single and responsibilities were few; however,
it simply was not possible at that time." Susan says the best advice she can give to
anyone, including her own children, is to focus on a college education, have a good time,
get the degree, and then move on to a career and the responsibilities of life. "Should my
offspring choose not to heed my sage advice, then I hope they stumble onto a program
such as that offered by UF and IFAS. "



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