Matt Huffman

Oct. 5, 2023

Matt Huffman, Agribusiness Economics & Management (ABEM) Summer 2023 graduate. Matt has just completed his degree, along with an internship in Panama City Beach, Florida which has led him to increased job opportunities for his time after graduation. This student spotlight describes Matt’s pivot during his academic journey with AREC and the opportunities that the department helped him reach. The department extends our warmest congratulations to Matt for his hard work academically and professional success.  


After transferring to UArizona from Pima Community College amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Matt found his reason to join the Wildcat family. He wrote, “I chose to come to the University of Arizona for a couple of reasons. Living here most of my life, I had a lot of friends I knew that were going to go to the UArizona and I wanted to be close to my family. When I toured the campus, I did fall in love with the architecture of it all and it made it a better argument for me to call this place home.” 


Matt decided he wanted to be a part of the College of Agriculture, Life, and Environmental Science (CALES), mostly due to the average class size and the widely known exceptional professors. He mentioned that these factors made his transfer from Pima to UArizona more seamless. Moreover, he added, “With these smaller classes, I got to see many familiar faces throughout the years and built relationships as we continued our learning throughout each semester.” 


Matt’s initial choice of degree when he first joined CALES was mechanical engineering, but after some thought, he found the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics (AREC) had more to their programs that fit his interests. He found himself good at working with numbers and enjoyed studying economics. But, as Matt found himself enjoying the AREC programs, he also found a new passion in hospitality. He explained, "This is very different from my degree plan, and it seems almost a waste to go into this degree plan with my new passion, but I found that Agricultural Economics can be my fallback if the hospitality business doesn't work out for me in the end.” 


During Matt’s time in AREC’s ABEM degree program, he was able to complete a summer internship with St. Joe, a high-value company in Panama City Beach, Florida. Matt explained, “This company was initially established as a paper mill company but later switched to a hospitality route of careers. Being the second largest land opener in Florida, they opened many resorts, hotels, clubs, and restaurants during their time in Panama City Beach.” 


For this internship, Matt was handling several daily tasks including room management, financial and sales, and organizational planning. With lots of hard work and dedication to St. Joe’s, Matt was able to show exceptional growth and was recognized as the “most enthusiastic” intern and was accepted into the Manager in Training program (MIT). Matt went on to recognize how his experience in the AREC department and classes allowed him to understand many aspects of applied economics and financial management. He explained that with his acquired knowledge from his AREC courses, he was able to adapt and excel in his internship in ways that he did not realize he could before. 


Matt is successful in securing a position with St. Joe’s in Panama City Beach, Florida, and will begin his journey with his growing passion for hospitality, and background in applied economics and agriculture.