[Archived bio. For updates on Cassandra, please check her LinkedIn profile, linked at the bottom of the page.]
I was born and raised in Springfield, Illinois. I did not grow up in a rural setting so I did not have any experience with agriculture or production animals. However, I always had animals as a little girl. I always loved learning about my pets and I enjoyed caring for them.
When I came to the University of Illinois I was undecided. I took my basic sciences classes since that is what I loved. When I joined the Illinois Leadership Certificate Program, my coach Jason Emmert, helped me look into my interests and introduced me to the college of ACES. I learned about Animal Sciences and was very interested. I signed up for the introductory class the next semester. After that I knew I was hooked. I transferred in to Animal Sciences at the end of my sophomore year and considered a career as a veterinarian. I worked at Donovan Lab, volunteered, and took internships at the Champaign County Humane Society to gain experience for vet school. However, I needed more large animal experience. I applied for a job working with dairy cattle in Drackley Lab and started work with a research project that summer. I had no experience with cattle outside of the classroom, but after a few months of working I loved dairy. I began to get bored with companion animals and just loved being at the farm more, even at 5am during the summer! Everything afterwards just fell into place. I talked to many graduate students and professors in Animal Sciences and decided not to apply to vet school. I applied to graduate school with Dr. Cardoso and happily accepted a position.
I am very blessed to be a part of the Dairy Focus Lab and I feel I am right where I need to be. The more I learn and gain experience, the more my passion for the dairy industry grows. I am very excited to work on my Masters and see what the future holds.