Fort Valley State University graduate Halle Tukes put her unrelenting energy into earning a bachelor’s degree in animal science in only three years.
The 21-year-old Brooks County, Georgia, native made it her mission as a junior in high school to achieve this goal by participating in the dual enrollment program through Wiregrass Georgia Technical College. While attending Brooks County High School, she was able to complete eight college courses. The student-athlete, who played three sports year-round and added a fourth sport her senior year, said she made her schoolwork a priority.
Tukes’ competitive nature persisted, as she became an FVSU Wildcat on a basketball scholarship with the desire to become a dentist. “I wanted to attend FVSU and pursue an animal science degree because a line of great dentists graduated from there,” she said. Tukes learned about FVSU from the Marable family, who are well-known dentists in Peach County, Georgia, and are originally from her hometown.
“They know my stepfather. They told him that since I have an interest in dentistry, I should look into Fort Valley,” she said.
After visiting the campus with her parents, she knew FVSU is where she belongs. However, her interest in becoming a dentist later changed to pharmacy. Working at the former Harveys Supermarket in Brooks County helped Tukes realize that she wanted to be a pharmacist. As a cashier in the pharmacy department, she observed the pharmacists, which resulted in her becoming a licensed pharmacy technician.
“I realized I would not mind doing this for the rest of my life,” she said. She worked weekends and during winter and summer breaks. “They closed, and I moved to a local pharmacy in Brooks County.”
Majoring in animal science at FVSU provided the foundation Tukes needs to pursue a pharmacy career. She realized that her career opportunities are vast. “Agriculture is a big contribution to this world. With animal science, you get all the sciences you need for most medical schools,” she said. “There is so much more to agriculture than just being outside on a farm. Also, being able to observe the animals gives you a different point of view.”
Tukes commended the hands-on training she received taking organic chemistry. “It relates to the medication aspect of how taking more than two medications at one time could react negatively,” she said.
Her advice to students considering attending FVSU is to take advantage of the friendly and family-oriented environment. “Teachers and advisers know you, and they care about you. They try to lead you in the right direction so you can be successful,” she said, commending Dr. Niki Whitley, animal science Extension specialist.
Now that she has graduated, the FVSU alumna’s aspiration is to attend pharmacy school, as well as conduct research on medications that are good for humans. As she continues to pursue her dreams, she credits her parents as her motivation.
“They instilled this competitive drive in me. They always made me strive to be the best person I can be in the classroom,” Tukes said. “You have to believe in yourself and want good for yourself. In any class, I wanted to have the highest grade.”
The person she looks up to the most is her mother. “My mom is incredible. I want to be like her. I watched her work her way up from a high school computer lab teacher to a middle school principal,” she said.
In addition to her parents, Tukes is passionate about setting a good example for her younger family members. Hoping to one day obtain a doctorate, she would be the first in her family to earn this title.
“That is another drive for me so that others in my family can see that they can do it also. It starts at home,” she said.
For more information about FVSU’s animal science program, visit https://ag.fvsu.edu/departments/ag-sciences/animal-science.