Story by Cassie Wandersee, (master’s student)
For the third year in a row, a College of Agriculture graduate was recognized as a Distinguished Young Alumnus.
A native of Oberlin, Kansas, Corey Fortin is a commissioned member of the United States Foreign Service with the U. S. Agency for International Development in Uganda and one of two 2015 Distinguished Young Alumni. After one year in Washington, D.C., Fortin spent two years in Kenya and was then transferred to his current post in Uganda.
Fortin graduated in 2006 with degrees in agribusiness and animal sciences and industry. He also earned a master’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Arkansas. While at K-State, Fortin served as a member of Agriculture Ambassadors, Student Senate, Alpha Zeta agricultural honorary, Agriculture Council and 4-H, among other roles.
During his time at K-State, Fortin was encouraged to set personal, career and core goals by Jackie McClaskey, former assistant dean for the College of Agriculture. Goal setting would be a valuable lesson Fortin learned to help guide his career.
“Through this process I was able to identify that one of my core goals is to make a difference for people, especially in other countries,” Fortin said.
Fortin discovered his calling — and dream job of helping others — through employment with the USAID. As a leading government agency, USAID works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient democratic societies to realize their potential.
Fortin also credited Michelle Haupt, his longtime mentor and former supervisor at the K-State Academic and Career Information Center.
“Michelle’s support gave me much needed confidence early in my college career,” says Fortin. “She was a fantastic manager, and I learned many elements of good management by working under her direction.”
Effective management is essential when working with others from different cultures, Fortin said. “If you are able to work through a challenging situation together, you come out of it a stronger group.”
In regard to communication, Fortin explained language barriers are one challenge he faces.
“People understand concepts best in their own language,” says Fortin. “So, when we provide agricultural information or work to link the Ugandan people to the resources available to them, it is best done in the native language.”
Even with language barriers and the challenging nature of working within another culture, Fortin shared that U.S. efforts are making a difference.
“The American people should be proud of the difference they are making every day in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ugandans through USAID, ” says Fortin.
His academic achievements and dedication to making a positive difference for people across the world make Fortin an excellent recipient of the K-State Distinguished Young Alumni award for 2015.