Scholarship takes student to Australia

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Just call her Ambassador Doom

By Ron Benningfield

Since graduating from LaRue County High School in 2003, Charlee Doom has experienced more adventures than Indiana Jones.

She has swum with dolphins and whale sharks in Tanzania, survived a bout with malaria while living there in mud huts and tree houses and has been bitten by a kangaroo in Australia. 

The quest continues as she embarks on her next venture – to serve as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar at the University of Western Australia in Perth.

“The scholarship provides $23,000 toward an international master’s of business administration,” the former state FFA president and Derby Queen said. “I will be charged with living the motto of Rotary International – service above self and its mission to advance world understanding, goodwill and peace through the improvement of health, support of education and alleviation of poverty.”

Doom, who graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, has set a goal to initiate a project that will fight poverty for the native people of Western Australia.

Her previous work experience should help in that endeavor.

BASF, The Chemical Company, sponsored her through the National FFA as a National Collegiate Agricultural Ambassador to make presentations focusing on global food security, the importance of biotechnology in alleviating world hunger and career opportunities within the agricultural industry throughout the United States, the Republic of Georgia and Tanzania.

As a marketing analyst for BASF, she examines the world’s weather, agronomic and market conditions to help farmers more effectively provide food around the globe.

She also examines resources to determine which make the best market opportunities.

“Right now I am working with canola, juncea and lentils,” she said. “While canola and lentils are established crops that most people have heard of, juncea is an exciting new crop that is a cousin to canola.”

It has all of the health benefits that come with canola oil, but it can also be grown in a drier regions.

“This is exciting to me as it expands the growing region for a high value food oil crop,” she said.

She intends to use this knowledge in Australia where, in addition to her scholastic responsibilities, she will speak to 10-15 Rotary Clubs in her host district and participate in Rotary events and community service projects there.


Along the way, she has recorded experiences that rival the quest for the lost ark. While off the coast of Mafia Island, the southern most island of the Zanzibar archipelago, she and 14 adventurous other young ladies sweltered in the equatorial heat on small craft in the Indian Ocean, hoping to swim with the giant whale shark.

“When we had all but given up, our guide screamed for us to bail out and look down,” she said. All put on their fins and jumped into the warm, clear water to close in on the 13-foot herbivore.

“We were warned to stay at least three meters from the shark as a blow from his tail could easily mangle a human,” she said. Without incident, however, the humans and shark swam together for about 10 minutes before it dived below the humans’ skin diving depth.

The kangaroo nibbled her in Victoria on another trip while she was taking a break from working on a dairy farm there. 

“As I was having a picture made feeding one of them, it decided human flesh tasted better than pellets and attempted to snack on my hand,” she said. “Apparently the screeching of an American with an accent makes a funny sound, as it was comical to the locals.”

Loves the challenge

About 20 countries ago, Doom’s love for travel started with her first international trip to Japan. 

“I oddly fell in love with that uncomfortable feeing you get when you walk into a room and don’t know a single soul,” she said. “It’s a welcome challenge every time I step off an airplane in a new city or country – what can I learn? Teach? Improve? Discover? Explore?”

With her sense of adventure, she is looking forward to diving into the Australian culture and wading through the less obvious differences, “without the cultural variations of language, race and religion that I have encountered in my more recent travels in Africa and Eastern Europe.”

“In all my travels, I’ve learned it’s not the places you go, but the people you meet,” she said.