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Celebrating Juneteenth with Chandra DeRamus

Nifa Author
Rachel Dotson, Public Affairs Specialist (Social Media)
Chandra DeRamus serves as the family and consumer science extension agent at Kentucky State University’s Cooperative Extension College of Agriculture, Community, and the Sciences. Image provided by Chandra DeRamus.
Chandra DeRamus serves as the family and consumer science extension agent at Kentucky State University’s Cooperative Extension College of Agriculture, Community, and the Sciences. Image provided by Chandra DeRamus. 
Chandra DeRamus serves as a Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Extension Agent with Kentucky State University’s Cooperative Extension College of Agriculture, Community and the Sciences. Get to know DeRamus in the following interview.

Tell us a little about your path into your current field. Who and/or what inspired you to pursue public health or science more generally?

My passion for my current field of study in FCS started at a very young age. I have always been creative, so I found that I enjoyed fashion, modeling, sewing and photography a lot. I also enjoyed teaching. The people who inspired me to get into my career field were Tyra Banks, Oprah Winfrey, my family and teachers from my junior high school. I wanted to be a clothing designer and design wedding dresses or become a teacher. Eventually, I went to college at Alabama A&M University and received a bachelor’s degree in apparel, merchandising and design. Afterwards, I went on to pursue a master’s degree in FCS. The program I received my master’s degree in covered three program areas— apparel merchandising and design, nutrition, and human development and family studies.  In addition, I pursued a certificate program in FCS to teach classes at the secondary level of school (9-12). However, I decided teaching within the public school system was not what I wanted to do long term.

I ended up working in the retail industry for about 20 years, primarily in visual merchandising and management, where I was mainly responsible for the overall sales promotions and mannequin presentations throughout the store. I have managed about four different retail clothing stores and worked at 12 different retailers over the span of about 22-25 years in various roles, such as the visual merchandising manager to the assistant manager. Later, I transitioned into working with Kentucky State University’s Cooperative Extension Service back in 2018 as an FCS Extension Agent, where I primarily work with several different audiences from adults to youths on programs that teach on youth development, nutrition education, financial literacy and parenting within Hardin County, Kentucky. 

How has USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) funding shaped your professional development and assisted with your current projects?

NIFA funding resources have provided me with several professional development opportunities over the last few years. I have been involved in several workshops and leadership development conferences, where I learned a lot about leadership skills, organization skills and working with more diverse audiences. Some of the training opportunities have taught me several different teaching techniques I can utilize while I am working with diverse audiences and primarily youth groups. There are several different teaching techniques and methods you can use when it comes to engaging an audience. However, the one of the most effective teaching techniques is the project-based learning approach where you use several different methods to get a person more involved in the learning process through more creative activities that involve working in teams and sharing ideas amongst peers. In addition, I prefer to use more visual aids to show audiences more words through text and pictures. Research shows this process helps people with learning quicker and retaining the information for longer periods of time.

What advice to you have for current students who may be interested in pursuing a similar career path?

I would recommend that students do their research on the career field they are interested in and can see themselves doing for the rest of their lives. They should also find and apply for paid internships and training opportunities where they can see what a typical work day is like in working in their chosen career field. Also, they should schedule a time to talk to their school counselor or a career counselor about free services that can improve their job skills, such as computer classes, interviewing techniques and classes that will earn them credits toward their college degree while they are still high school. Lastly, I would recommend that they learn a foreign language, preferably Spanish. Other languages are recommended as well, to the person’s choosing. It will mainly depend on if they plan on working with a specific group of people who do not speak English or their native language.

Photo: USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture is celebrating Juneteenth. Various images of farmers working in the field and a family spending time together. Courtesy of Adobe Stock. 

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