With endless enthusiasm and a permanent warm smile, it’s no wonder Sonja Perry’s nickname is “Sunny.” This CAFNR student shines as a role model by balancing academics, campus leadership and Greek life.
A sophomore animal sciences major, Perry hails from Bowling Green, Mo., where her level of involvement in high school has transitioned to college. At MU she is active as CAFNR Student Council representative, Collegiate Farm Bureau vice president, Tour Team, CAFNR Ambassadors and Pre-Vet Club.
“My parents always say don’t do anything halfway, and never do something just for the awards,” Perry said.
Being involved is more than just a hobby for Perry; it’s a passion. She relishes the opportunity to represent MU through her leadership positions. Greek life is a tradition for the Perry family as her sister Meagan was a fellow Kappa Alpha Theta. Abrea Mizer, freshman biochemistry and agricultural education major, is Perry’s sorority “little.” She said Perry is a very driven individual and loves to be involved on campus.
“Sonja fully commits herself in everything she does,” Mizer said. “She has high expectations and dreams big.”
In Bowling Green, her parents operate a biochemistry laboratory, Perry Agricultural Laboratories, which tests soil from 23 countries and every state. Perry’s three siblings and two nieces and two nephews have instilled her family values. She credits her family for making a lasting impact upon her leadership style and life. Perry’s parents have always pushed her to never cease learning and to follow her dreams.
During her freshman year, Perry was selected as Omicron Delta Kappa’s Top 14 Freshmen. An exclusive MU society, ODK targets students with outstanding leadership and academic achievements. To be considered, students must have had an impact on campus and the community during their short time at MU. This year, Perry was selected as a Leadership Scholar, a program for select CAFNR sophomores that commemorates the life of MU alumnus, Congressman Jerry Litton.
Her desire to become a leader began at a young age through 4-H and the National FFA Organization. During her senior year, she was selected as the female Missouri Farm Bureau Ambassador. Perry has been promoting the agricultural industry though speech competitions and leadership workshop facilitations for most of her life.
But, her leadership training is just beginning as this month she travels to Louisville, Ky., as the Missouri FFA national officer candidate. She spent her summer conducting workshops and traveling for candidate duties all while balancing summer classes. Perry will compete among collegians from across the U.S. for one of six national offices at the National FFA Convention. If elected, Perry will take a year off from college to travel the country representing FFA.
Courtney Spencer, sophomore animal sciences major, has known Perry since 2010 when they were both selected as Missouri Agribusiness Academy delegates. The duo then served as Missouri FFA officers together where Perry was named state secretary.
“Sonja (Perry) is very energetic and fun loving,” Spencer said. “Her goal is to give back to as much of the things around her as she can.”
Perry’s career aspiration is to be a food animal veterinarian to serve a rural Missouri community. As a pre-vet scholar, Perry job shadows veterinarians and takes rigorous classes. The program requires a competitive GPA and each semester she has been named to the Dean’s List. Both academics and campus involvement are high priorities to Perry.
“Sonja is definitely a role model on campus,” Spencer said. “She is involved in so many activities and groups around campus. She invests as much time as she can with everything she is involved in, and that is one of the things that makes her good at what she does.”
From academics to leadership, by all accounts, Perry is a model student who exceeds expectations. She was raised to believe in herself and others, and that belief is helping her move toward a bright future within CAFNR and the agricultural industry.