Spring 2024 Outstanding Seniors

May 9, 2024

Two excellent seniors were nominated as the AREC Spring 2024 Outstanding Seniors for their mastery in academics, community engagement, and achievements.


Please join the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics in congratulating the well-deserving Outstanding Seniors for the Spring 2024 term! This semester’s nominee pool contained many accelerating and stellar students who have achieved academic and personal goals immersed themselves in university and community activities, and set great examples for their peers. With such strong and competitive nominees, the selection process was challenging. However, through all the amazing achievements and perseverance throughout their undergraduate careers, the department respectfully nominated Ashton Redd and Roberta Gracia. Read here about their accomplished undergraduate careers and their next steps.

We want to wish each of our Spring & Summer 2024 graduating students the best of luck and opportunity in their future endeavors, and of course, Bear Down, Wildcats! 

Ashton Redd, Agribusiness Economics & Management

With Ashton’s passion for agriculture sparked as a young child, she came to UArizona intending to gain a foundational knowledge of our economy, with agriculture as the main focus. She said, “My goal, both in my career and personally, has always been to bridge the communication gap between producers and legislators. Contributing to this area by overcoming the lack of knowledge I have gained over the last four years and further education, I aspire to work as an advocate in a policy-related position, lobbyist, or a public relations role.”  

Another goal she had entering her undergraduate career was to build a community of friends who would support each other in their education and jumpstart their networking. Ashton explains that the AREC department was a large factor in supporting her to gain the full drive of her undergraduate career. She explained, “Becoming close with peers in the AREC department allowed us to become leaders of our education as we worked together to get the most out of our time with professors and TAs during office hours or study sessions.”  

Alongside Ashston’s academic achievements, she took her knowledge and curiosity for opportune experiences beyond the classroom. Ashton was an undergraduate TA for three semesters, totaling over 500 students’ work, exams, and projects. She was also a CALES Ambassador, where she was asked to act as a representative of the college in recruiting. Ashton also spent several semesters as the vice president and the inter-chapter relations officer for the Sigma Alpha Agricultural Sorority. Finally, Ashton spent many hours participating in the AZ Young Farmers and Ranchers organization, the AREC department’s DEI Committee, and the AREC department’s Academic Program Review. 

Out in the community, Ashton was a great support to the Pinal County Jr. Fair Board for four years, the Arizona Association FFA for three years, and the Peoria Mini Camp for two years. While volunteering with those organizations, Ashton also held employment with the Arizona Association FFA as a State Staff Consultant, the Arizona National Livestock Show as an Office Admin Assistant, and the Arizona National Livestock Show as a sheep and goat barn clerk. Ashton excelled in her academics and her community involvement, receiving several scholarships and awards, and being nominated for many internships as well. 

After graduating with two majors Agribusiness Economics & Management, and Environmental & Water Resources Economics, Ashton will pursue a master’s program or law school with the focus of water resource management and land use in the southwest region. She closed with, “While nothing about the future is a guarantee, I will remain dedicated to my growth as an individual through learning and staying committed to my mission to bridge the communication gap to better the agriculture industry.”


Roberta Eugenia Gracia, Environmental & Water Resource Economics 

With the strong support system of her family, Roberta was motivated and confident in completing her undergraduate degree and then achieving a master’s degree from UArizona. Her initial degree plan was chemical engineering but quickly found herself highly interested in the AREC department, and she was soon after welcomed into the EWRE program where she found her academic passion: water resources.  

In her second year, Roberta chose to embark on the Accelerated Master’s Program (AMP) with AREC, which allowed her to complete her undergraduate and graduate degree in just a short span of five years instead of the traditional six years. She explained, “I prioritize my personal growth by cultivating daily habits that enhance both my well-being and career prospects.” 

One of Roberta’s main goals in her undergraduate career was to remain persistent in mathematical concepts and challenges. She found it slightly challenging as she progressed through her program, but with time and determination, she excelled and taught herself thoroughly to understand. Another goal that Roberta mentioned is always to utilize the support system she has around her in the AREC department. She built a good community with other undergraduate and graduate students, went to office hours held by professors, and always asked for clarifications. 

Meanwhile excelling in her academics, Roberta was involved in an internship and other programs that provided learning opportunities she could utilize throughout her career. Roberta began an internship with the Water Resource Research Center (WRRC) here at  UArizona, which provided Roberta with a learning experience in research conference etiquette and preparation. Then, for the past two semesters, Roberta held a Preceptor position where she mentored students in the fields of statistics and production analysis. Lastly, while completing AMP, Roberta had a role as an AMP ambassador where she supported the department in promoting the program by designing flyers and t-shirts and met with Alumni students of the program. 

When academics and departmental support did not occupy Roberta’s time, she also held various employment positions in the community working part-time while maintaining a high GPA and earning academic distinctions and scholarships. 

As Roberta ends her undergraduate career, she will have one year remaining to complete her master’s degree. She is striving to obtain an internship or job position in data analytics by May 2025, which aligns exceptionally with her academic background and passions.