Lifelong Vols Fan Tackles Agricultural Degree through Online Master of Science Program

Author: Kealy Moriarty

Last Updated:

Category: Feature Story | Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication (ALEC)

High School teacher and longtime Tennessee Volunteer fan chooses the Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication (ALEC) program in the Herbert College of Agriculture in pursuit of higher education.

online student hunter dove wearing Tennessee t-shirt and two fish

Choosing online at UT was an easy choice

The decision between going into the workforce or pursuing a master’s degree after completing an undergraduate degree can be challenging for any student; however, for University of Tennessee, Knoxville, student Hunter Dove, the decision came easy. Hunter, a lifelong Volunteers fan, finally achieved his dream by pursuing a master’s degree in the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication (ALEC) from the online program offered by the Herbert College of Agriculture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

I’ve always been a Vols fan; ever since I was little, I’ve loved Tennessee.

— Hunter Dove, online student, Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication (ALEC)

Online classes offer flexibility for professionals

Hunter, an Anderson, South Carolina resident, is a high school agriculture teacher who focuses on garden cultivation and management. Hunter explains, “I knew I wanted to continue my education however, I did not want to pause my career goals.”

This 100% online program offered by UT, has allowed Hunter to continue his career progression and work towards his master’s degree without the constraints of in-person classes. “Being completely out-of-state, this program works perfectly for me,” said Hunter.

He is able to balance his full-time job, his home life, and his education on a schedule that fits his needs. Hunter will graduate this December with a Master of Science, in ALEC.

I know this master’s degree will enable me to be a better teacher, leader and communicator within the agriculture industry.

– Hunter Dove

Hunter has a Bachelor of Science in Animal and Veterinary Sciences with a Minor in Business Administration from Clemson University.

Q&A with Hunter Dove on his experience with online courses

Why did you choose to complete your master’s degree online and what brought you to choose the University of Tennessee, Knoxville?

When I made my mind up to continue my studies, I decided I wanted to focus on an Agriculture Education master’s degree. I wanted to go in person; however, I knew online was also an option. If I opted to go online, I knew I could start working while simultaneously, pursuing my next degree. I decided that was the route I wanted to go so I began searching universities that offered this particular online program. The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, was one of those colleges that offered this program online. I’ve always been a Vols fan; ever since I was little, I’ve loved Tennessee. I would say that this had a lot to do with my choice, and I would say the students and faculty at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, helped with my decision. The professors in the ALEC department and even the admissions staff were just fantastic. They were so nice and just made me feel like this was the school I needed to go with!

How will this online master’s degree impact your career goals and future aspirations?

Through the classes I have taken so far, I have learned how I can be a better educator and I’ve learned how to be a better leader. These courses have enhanced my knowledge and have prepared me for success in my future. I’ve developed new skills while reinforcing the skills I already knew I had. I have become a better person, and I’ve truly discovered what I’m most passionate about.

What made you choose the ALEC program and how has your experience been so far?

I had been talking to several friends of mine and they’d told me they thought Tennessee offered an online program. I found out they did indeed offer a master’s program, so I reached out to the department. We had many conversations about graduate school at Tennessee in person and if I was online. It was through those conversations I knew Tennessee was the place I wanted to get my masters from. Dr. Carrie Ann Stephens was so genuine and real with me about everything. She told me about the program and what it would be like. These conversations I had with her helped me to decide Tennessee was the place I wanted to be but specifically I wanted to be a part of the ALEC department. Dr. Stephens has been my advisor during my time here at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and she has been awesome! I am extremely grateful for everything Dr. Stephens has done for me as well as the other professors within the ALEC department. My experience has been phenomenal!

What advice would you give to future students pursuing a path in agricultural leadership?

I would tell a future student to first think about what it is you truly want to do with your career. Think about the goals you have and what’s the dream you truly want to achieve. I would then say if it’s undergraduate or even graduate school choose a school and program that truly cares. Choose one that cares about two things, one being your future and two being your own self. Surround yourself with good people who are mentors, for example people like Dr. Stephens. People who want to help you be successful and are going to push you to be the best student and person you can be. Enjoy the journey and soak in all the knowledge you can!

What do you plan on doing with this master’s degree in Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication once you’ve earned it?

I would like to continue on and pursue a PhD in an Agriculture related field. With this, I would like to be a teacher’s assistant or help teach college courses. My ultimate goal is to teach at a collegiate level and this master’s will help me get to that next level.

light post flag that reads join the journey on ut campus with dogwoods in bloom

Learn More

Would you like more information on the master’s program in Agricultural Leadership, Education & Communication? Take the first step by completing and submitting a Request for Information form on the program page.