’burg and Beyond

In Lewisburg and far afield, Bucknell’s students and staff make a positive and palpable difference.
Noreen Mastascusa in uniform
Courtesy of Noreen Mastascusa ’83
" "
Noreen Mastascusa ’83 at her 2021 graduation from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
" "Calexico, Calif.
In her workplace at the U.S.-Mexico border, Noreen Mastascusa ’83 climbs into cargo truck trailers and digs through boxes of green onions, leafs through bunches of kale, pokes around bales of hay. But Mastascusa, an agriculture specialist with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, isn’t looking for smugglers (who she hopes are caught at a previous X-ray inspection). Instead, Mastascusa’s eye is trained on insects, ticks, blight, weed seeds and soil-borne diseases.

How She Got There
After Bucknell, the biology major earned a second B.S. in horticulture from Penn State, then studied for an M.S. in horticulture at Texas A&M. But before finishing her thesis, Mastascusa joined the Peace Corps, serving nearly three years in the Dominican Republic. Preparing for her latest job as an ag specialist required two months of Department of Agriculture training in pest identification and regulation, then seven weeks at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Ag specialists spend a shorter time in law enforcement training than officers because they are not armed and learn only defensive tactics.

Why She Chose This
“I decided that I preferred to work in jobs where I felt like I was doing more than just earning money,” Mastascusa says. “I wanted to feel like I was doing something useful.” That includes helping to protect American agriculture from the next invasive species, and defending crops and plants from potentially devastating diseases.
— Carol Cool