MSU Graduates find successful careers in Mississippi

Contact: Mary Kathryn Kight

When Cade Moody graduated with a master’s degree in agribusiness management from Mississippi State University in 2017, he had the credentials and internship experience companies look for in new hires. Job opportunities were already lining up. After accepting an offer from a Kentucky-based company, Moody and his wife, Elizabeth, headed north. Soon, a promotion relocated them to Tennessee, but there was one problem.

“We realized we weren’t home,” said Moody, a Grenada native.

Moody and Elizabeth, an Indianola native, started looking for career opportunities in Mississippi in 2020. During that time, WADE Incorporated was on the brink of redefining its identity in agriculture innovation with the launch of its agriculture technology division IntelliFarm, signaling a new era for the oldest John Deere family-owned dealer in the U.S. Moody previously interned with WADE Inc. in 2013 while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering technology and business from MSU. When the opportunity for a job arose, it was more than a career move—it was a homecoming.


family picture of husband, wife and newborn

Moody now works as an ag technology specialist for IntelliFarm by WADE Inc., serving the Greenville, Indianola, and Cleveland areas.

“I focus on getting the next level of technology into our customers’ hands that can make them more efficient and more profitable,” he said.

Moody was excited to see the launch of MSU’s Agricultural Autonomy Institute in 2023.

“There’s no doubt ag autonomy is going to play a major role in Mississippi, but that will look different here than in Iowa and Indiana. That’s one of the benefits of having MSU right down the road,” Moody said. “Not only are they training the next generation that’s going to drive this industry into the future, but they are also creating potential solutions and equipment to serve our state.”

Wade Litton, president and CEO of WADE Inc., said the company’s relationship with MSU and its agricultural units goes back many years.

“We’ve always believed in integrating students into a true working environment, specifically agriculture,” said Litton. “Our recent collaboration with MSU’s Precision Ag Flight program further solidifies our belief that MSU continues to lead our region in ag teachings and innovation.”

A recent First Destination Survey shows a 93 percent successful career outcome rate for MSU graduates, with more than half remaining in Mississippi, including some out-of-state students.

Forestry student measures a tree at dorman lake

“The people in Mississippi are just so nice,” said Molly Graham, an MSU graduate and Florida native.

She received a bachelor’s degree in forestry with a concentration in forest management and a minor in geospatial and remote sensing in May 2023.

Graham chose MSU because of the family-like atmosphere and its renowned forestry program.

“MSU holds a reputation across our industry for teaching old forestry practices,” Graham said. “We have the technology to press a button and get a number, but it’s important to know how that number got there because if you don’t know the background behind it, you don’t fully understand the ‘why’ behind what you’re doing.”

In 2022, Graham secured a coveted internship at the Brookhaven location of Weyerhaeuser, one of the world’s largest sustainable forest products companies, and was offered a full-time position following graduation. She is now on Weyerhaeuser’s drone team, combining traditional forestry
practices with cutting-edge technology to tackle challenges for the industry.

“We’ve done an aerial project trying to assess the beetle damage in South Mississippi and identify ways to tackle that problem. I’ve been pretty involved in that process because it has a lot to do with GIS systems and drones, which I know a lot about,” Graham said. “We also use drones to create aerial imagery to get a correct acreage amount after land has been cut or harvested.” 

man and woman standing in the junction at MSU wearing white lab coats

Dr. Gunnar Dunnam and his wife, Dr. AudreyAnne Estess-Dunnam, who are recent graduates of the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), were contemplating their next career move when they opened a fortune cookie with a message that read: To build a better world, start in your community.

“As silly as it may sound, it was a turning point for me and my wife,” said Dunnam. “We had been talking about our future and where we would live.”

The couple met during their first year as aspiring veterinarians at MSU. After graduation, they married and moved to the Jackson area, where Estess-Dunnam began her career at a small animal practice. Dunnam specialized in poultry medicine, completing his residency at the MSU CVM Poultry Research and Diagnostic Lab in Pearl.

“Poultry medicine is a niche market, so the plan was to move where I got a job and then my wife could practice as a small animal veterinarian wherever we ended up. But then Cal-Maine came into our lives as a great company with values that align with ours,” Dunnam said.

Founded in 1957 and headquartered in Ridgeland, Cal-Maine Foods is the largest producer and distributor of fresh shell eggs in the U.S., selling 1.1 billion dozen eggs annually. While the company works closely with veterinarians, Dunnam became the first full-time poultry medicine veterinarian on staff.

Veterinarian examines a baby chick

Eggs are not the biggest commodity in Mississippi, but poultry is, and I get to have a small hand in that,” Dunnam said. I’m able to have a direct impact on providing a quality product to consumers not only in our state but also across our territory.”

Brian Ballard, corporate recruiter for Cal-Maine Foods, said the MSU poultry science department is exposing graduates to nutrition, animal welfare, food safety, and strong leadership development.

“MSU is preparing today’s students for a bright future in the poultry industry,” Ballard said. “We are blessed to have a valuable partner in MSU!”

The Dunnams’ fortune cookie message is taped under their picture in their home and serves as a reminder that you can make a difference from coast to coast by starting in your backyard.

“I think home is where you make it, and I’m looking forward to a long, successful career here,” Dunnam said.

framed picture of a couple

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