STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Christopher and Danielle Tadych
BY Libby Knizley, JUNIOR/AGRICULTURAL COMMUNICATIONS
For Christopher and Danielle Tadych, relationships have been at the core of their Auburn University experience. Working with each other, fellow students and faculty, the brother-sister team has built relationships in the College of Agriculture that have made them closer than they imagined possible.
The Tadychs transferred to Auburn fall semester 2013 after completing their associate degrees at Southern Union State Community College in their hometown of Opelika. Danielle is a senior in environmental sciences, and Chris, who’s a year older than his sister, is a senior in animal sciences/pre-vet.
Their initial experiences with the College of Agriculture helped combat any anxiety the former home-schoolers had about transferring to Auburn.
“I thought, ‘this is a good sign,’” Chris says as he remembers the faculty’s willingness to guide Danielle and him through acclimating to the university.
Danielle recalls how the college’s personal atmosphere pulled her in its fold, from students welcoming her into their groups to professors investing in her studies.
Danielle was drawn to environmental sciences as a major because of the diversity of sciences covered, as well as the diverse people with which she interacts.
“Growing up, being in nature was a part of our everyday learning,” she says. “So we would go out and experience our work, just like we do at Auburn.”
For Chris, animal sciences offered the winning combination of caring for animals and relating to others who share his passion for animal agriculture.
“I’ve always loved animals,” Chris says. “Growing up, I thought I had a connection [with animals]. Plus, I like working with people.”
Although they didn’t officially join the Auburn family until 2013, the Tadych siblings were born with connections to the university. Their mother, Hope, was a student here, and uncles Carl and Mike Hubbard played football for the Tigers in the early 1970s. Still, their passion and unwavering pride for Auburn didn’t hit the Tadychs until their first football season, which included the iconic last-second victory over the University of Alabama during the 2013 Iron Bowl. Now they are absolutely hooked on school spirit.
Auburn fanaticism wasn’t the only thing that took them by surprise. Initially, their biggest challenge at Auburn was adjusting to the rigorous coursework. But the duo quickly learned to take advantage of academic assistance the university provides, including Supplemental Instruction and Study Partners programs and the Miller Writing Center.
Danielle says she was surprised to discover how much involvement with campus organizations eased her adjustment to Auburn. Looking back, she believes getting plugged into the Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences Club earlier than she did would have provided more opportunities to learn from peers and more motivation from her hard-working peers.
Christopher believes his involvement in the Block and Bridle Club, an animal sciences organization, has provided him not only with hands-on experience through events such as cattle sales, but with mentors and friends invested in his life and career as well.
Danielle and Christopher are no strangers to challenges, and as with their schoolwork, they take every trial in stride.
Danielle was diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, as an infant, and Chris has been by her side through every struggle and celebration. The condition is a genetic disorder in which her body lacks bone-strengthening collagen, and that results in easily broken bones.
Although the 20-year-old has been through several near-death experiences and has broken every bone in her body, she has healed – miraculously, she says – each time.
“I don’t know why I was saved, but I do know I have a purpose and am grateful to be alive,” Danielle says.
She relies on her Christian faith for hope, a sense of purpose and the belief that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Extraordinary support from family, friends and even strangers has also been a huge source of encouragement for overcoming the adversity that accompanies the disease.
After graduation in 2016, Danielle intends to earn a master’s degree and doctorate and pursue a career in soil conservation. Meanwhile, Chris intends to attend veterinary medicine school.
Libby Knizley is a junior studying agricultural communications and is originally from Mobile, Alabama. Libby is involved in Ag Ambassadors, the Wesley Foundation and the University Program Council. After graduation in 2016, she hopes to pursue a career within agribusiness, concentrating on nutrition and food security.