Fresno State graduate, Monique Bienvenue grew up in a big city with little knowledge of the agriculture community. With the intent to study equine science, Monique entered Fresno State only to be introduced to the world of central valley agriculture. Monique found her passion in the agriculture industry and has established herself as a business leader in her field. We dive into some of her favorite accomplishments and who her mentor was growing up!
Q: Who inspired you growing up?
My grandmother, Maria Bienvenue, is by far the most amazing woman I've ever met, and she definitely inspires me every day. When she was only 19 years old, her family arranged her marriage to my grandfather, an American soldier, and she moved to the United States from Mexico not knowing a lick of English. She not only worked hard to become an American citizen, but she did so while teaching herself how to speak English, and earning her keep in the work force. For years, she worked as a teacher's aide and raised a total of seven children. She never learned how to drive a car, but nothing stopped her from getting from point A to point B. Whether it was walking the streets of South Gate or Cudahay in her heels, or taking the bus to get herself to a doctor's appointments, she never let obstacles get in the way of her completing a task or accomplishing a goal.
A devout woman of faith, my grandmother is the definition of courage under pressure. She has always tackled life's stressors with a quick prayer and a smile on her face, and she has always reminded me that if I'm unhappy in a situation, to change the narrative. She's one of my best friends and the woman I most admire; it's because of her unending support and unwavering love that I've been able to accomplish what I have in my career, my relationships and so much more.
Q: Like you, I also changed my major in college. What would you say to someone who is apprehensive about switching majors?
Life is unruly and often doesn't go the way that we had planned. When this happens, it's helpful to look at your current situation and think about the things you can do to set yourself up for success. When I originally moved to Fresno, I was certain that I was going to graduate from Fresno State with a degree in Equine Science - but when I discovered that I had a passion for agriculture and the farmer's story, I listened to my gut and decided to change my major to Agriculture Communications. Deep down, I knew that being a trainer wasn't going to fulfill my dream of being an advocate for California's ag industry, so I took a chance on pursuing a degree I knew little about and decided to make the most of it. Changing my major was the best decision that I made during my time at Fresno State; it opened up so many doors for me and set the trajectory for some of my best accolades and the career I'm in now. If I hadn't listened to my gut and changed my major, I would have missed out on meeting some of my closest friends and wouldn't be where I am today.
Q: How does innovation play into the Agriculture Industry?
Innovation and agriculture go hand-in-hand. California is home to over 400 different agricultural commodities and our amazing farmers and growers feed not only our nation, but the world. Every day, the world's population continues to grow, and with that so too does the demand for fresh, healthy food. State-of-the-art technology is instrumental at every point of production - whether it's using the most advanced irrigation systems to water our crops or utilizing palletizing equipment to get pallets of fresh produce ready for shipment, there is not one step of the production process that does not benefit from the use of technology.
Q: Having served as the Director of Communications for Bee Sweet Citrus, what advice would you like to give other young women about to enter the workforce?
If someone who's just about to enter the workforce were to ask me for advice, I would tell her two things. One: it's important to have a mentor in the field or job that you're pursuing, and two: be confident in the skills you know you bring to the table. There are a lot of young professionals who go into the workforce not knowing what to expect and quit or change career paths when they experience challenges or things don't quite go the way they had planned. Having a mentor, whether it's at their place of work or someone who has experience in their field, can offer a lot of valuable insight when you face challenges, and can also help you navigate unknown territory. I cannot tell you how many times I've called my mentors when I had questions, and every time that I did, I left the conversation feeling composed, confident and ready to tackle whatever situation I was dealing with.
Having confidence in yourself is also imperative to creating the image that you want in the work environment. If you have an idea, share it; if you'd like to help with a specific project, ask to be a part of that team. I find that young professionals often feel that they aren't qualified to handle certain projects or job responsibilities before they've even tried; but that mindset limits growth, and it delays the process to be the best version of yourself on and off the job.
Q: What has been your greatest success thus far?
Since graduation, I've been able to help my team at Bee Sweet Citrus build and maintain its communications department, and I've assisted two non-profits with building their image in Fresno and its surrounding communities. I've only been in the workforce for five years now, but I'm honored and privileged to know that there are others who believe in my abilities and are willing to listen to, and implement, the ideas that I have. Building an image is everything when it comes to public relations, and I'm very passionate about the work that I do.
Q: Last and most important question; How do you take your coffee?
Haha! You can never go wrong with a light roast blend of coffee, topped with hazelnut or caramel creamer!