From medicine to agriculture: The big switch


Mikela Pryor started her freshman year thinking she was going to be a pharmacist. Now she is in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering program just semesters away from graduating.

“I left pharmacy because I felt like the prerequisites were too difficult for something my heart wasn’t into. I didn’t feel like I could really make a difference in the field of pharmacy. When I found the  Biosystems Engineering Department, I felt like it was something I could really see myself enjoying for the rest of my life, even though the curriculum was rigorous,” Pryor said about her decision to switch majors.

In her junior year, this Dallas native became president of the FAMU chapter of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Systems Engineers (ASABE). Securing funds from FAMU Student Government Association to help pay for the club’s annual trip to the ASABE Student Regional Rally at the University of Kentucky was a grand moment for both herself and the organization.

The FL ASABE-BASE Club is an organization of undergraduate students in the Biological Systems Engineering program (BSE) at the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS). BSE is an international organization committed to promoting agricultural and biological engineering through professional development, continuing education and networking, according to FAMU’s College of Agriculture and Food Science official website.

“Mikela stepped out of her comfort zone when leaving the pre-pharmacy program because it was something that her and her family was set on. Now that she’s in a new major, she is being offered many opportunities from experiences and leadership roles in her field. Seeing her make such a brave decision makes me extremely proud and excited to see what the future holds for her,” said friend, Taylor Scott.

A change of major can be a difficult decision for some students. About 50 percent of college students change their major during their undergrad career. This decision is something that many students struggle with due to the uncertainty of a delayed graduation.

She admits to the challenges that presents itself while being in a difficult major.  “Engineering school is hard,” she said.

 Although she faces challenges in her new major, she does not regret her switch because she is truly passionate about her field.

“Society has a great need for biological systems engineering. The BSE program at FAMU considers living systems when approaching problems in the natural world, which I think is very important given the current state of the world’s dwindling natural resources,” Pryor said. “Given its great faculty and curriculum, I know the program has prepared me to take on those challenges.”

 Pryor is completing a six-week internship in Ohio for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a civil engineering intern. She is one of two students to intern for the company this summer.  “I’ve never used this much bug spray in my life,” she said.