College of Agricultural Sciences |Student Athletes| SIU

Southern Illinois University



Commencement Highlight: Student athletes graduate with degrees in animal science

May 29, 2017

It takes a lot more than athletic ability alone to be a collegiate athlete. Time management is as crucial as conditioning, good study habits as important as healthy ones. Meet two student athletes who graduated from our animal science program this May, who exemplify the determination, hard work and willingness to learn that we prize in our students. We’re proud to be part of their stories.

Cara Engel

Cara Engel is a pole-vaulter with the Saluki track and field team. It’s been a great experience, but she values her time as an i2i student as much.

A member of the PotashCorp Executive i2i Pathway to Excellence, Engel worked with mentor Amer AbuGhazaleh, professor of animal science. She presented the results of her research, “The Effect of Natural Antioxidants on the Oxidative Stability of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Dog’s Food,” at Purdue University at the culmination of the i2i project year.

Another great experience -- her hands-on lab class in animal reproductive physiology. “I was able to use ultrasonography to identify a living fetus inside a cow and feel it move around -- it was an incredible experience!” she said.

It’s probably not something the Grayslake native could have imagined doing as a freshman. She began her Saluki experience as an exercise science major. She’d been an athlete throughout school, so she figured it’d be a good fit, she said. And, she has, as she says, “zero background in agriculture, farming or anything related.”

What changed her mind? Well, for one, exercise science was not for her -- at all. But horses, well, maybe they were. She spent part of the summer after her freshman year with a cousin who had horses and the experience sparked her curiosity. She checked out what SIU had to offer and found that the animal science program seemed a whole lot more interesting.

“I switched my major to equine science,” she said. “I learned along the way there was an entire world devoted to farm animals with more options than just becoming a veterinarian. I got caught up in ruminant nutrition and that is where my passion has been ever since.”

She’s enjoyed her in-depth, hands-on research labs so much, Engel plans to pursue graduate work in ruminant nutrition.

Shaye Harre

Shaye Harre knows how to hit a homerun. She hit a dozen of them in last year’s Saluki women’s softball season and ended with a .368 batting average. This year, she became SIU’s all-time leader in doubles breaking the previous record of 47. She also tied the single-season record, finishing the regular season with 17 doubles. Overall statistics aren’t yet complete for the 2017 season.

Harre is also a recipient of the State Farm MVC Good Neighbor Award, presented to a handful of student athletes who remain in good academic standing and demonstrate good citizenship. Harre has volunteered her time with the Saluki Food Pantry Food Drive, Veteran’s Tailgate, WIN for Life and other causes. In addition, she’s consistently on the Dean’s List and she holds a 3.91 cumulative GPA.

Besides all that, she also knows a thing or two about cattle. The Nashville, Ill. native owns a 50-head herd of registered Angus cattle – including several heifers purchased at SIU’s annual “bull test” sale for animals with recorded health and other statistics. She shows and wins with her cattle regularly at Angus association shows.

“I come from a dairy and grain farm, where I found out that I wanted agriculture to be my life,” she said. “I started showing cattle when I was around 10 years old. One year I asked my dad for a show heifer and ever since then I fell in love with Angus. But I know the dairy cows will always be there for me to appreciate.”

Harre doesn’t stick just to cattle, though. She interned with Gary Apgar, professor of animal science and self-proclaimed “pig guy.”

“To me, I love the hands-on experiences we are able to have here in labs, and being able to have that interaction with the animals at the farms,” she said.

Harre is an animal science major specializing in production, and minoring in agribusiness economics. Her immediate post-graduation plans are to work at Farmers Mid-County Feed in Nashville and help with the family farm.