Page 5

ALUMNI FEATURE

Natural Trailblazer

A

Alumna Yvonne Sams’ (Agricultural Engineering Technology, ’95) path to where she is today as the director of logistics of G3 Enterprises, working with wineries on transportation, warehousing and distribution services, has been defined by a series of firsts. A first-generation college student from Watsonville, California, she attended Cal Poly determined to pursue a path in engineering. “I come from a fairly traditional Mexican family and for a woman to go away to college was a big deal,” Sams said. She was the first of 33 cousins to go away to college. Sams quickly fell under the wing of Agricultural Communications Department Head Robert Flores, and under his guidance helped to reestablish the Latinos in Agriculture Club — which is still active today. She was also the first woman to major in agricultural engineering technology at Cal Poly. Despite naysayers who voiced concern that a woman would struggle in the then typically male-dominated major, Sams spent her college years learning to weld, mill, lathe, rebuild engines, build trailers and master the technology behind complex agricultural systems – as the only woman in each of her classes. She was determined to succeed and graduate with the degree that she set out to obtain. Five years later, she did. “At the time, I really didn’t think it was such a big deal,” said Sams. However, 20 years later, Sams found herself transcending a similar barrier when she pursued a job heading the agricultural arm of logistics at G3. Located in Modesto, California, G3 Enterprises is owned by the third generation of the Gallo family and provides creative, integrated solutions for beverage and ag industry partners with packaging products and supply chain services. Until then, the position had always been run by men, she said. “I doubled the business in five years and I’m on the road to doubling it again,” Sams said. Her loyalty to Cal Poly remains strong, with Sams

You can do anything you put your mind to, there are only mental barriers. Just because someone tells you that you can’t do something, doesn’t mean that serving as an advisory board member for the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department and as a Cal Poly alumni advisory board member representing the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences. She frequently hires Cal Poly students as interns to do harvest and billing and systems work because she believes in the college’s Learn by Doing philosophy. She and her husband of 19 years, Brad Sams (Food Science, ’95) and three children Bianca, Ashley and Brent, live in Oakdale, California. The couple met at Cal Poly through Greek Week activities.

you shouldn’t. Yvonne Sams

“I never intended to lead the way or to be the first at these things,” she said. “I did it out of necessity. You can do anything you put your mind to, there are only mental barriers. Just because someone tells you that you can’t do something, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.” CAFES.CALPOLY.EDU

3

Cultivate Summer 2017  

The quarterly newsletter of the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, a globally recognized center of excellence...

Cultivate Summer 2017  

The quarterly newsletter of the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, a globally recognized center of excellence...