Student highlight: Anne Chiara Neufeld Furstenau
September 13th, 2021
Howdy! My name is Anne Chiara Neufeld Furstenau and I am a senior animal science student from Paraguay. I grew up outside a small town called Filadelfia, founded by German-Russian Mennonites in 1930. They fled from Russia due to communism and their religious beliefs. It is now a multicultural city that has become a center point in the northern part of Paraguay where both German and Spanish are spoken.
My parents run a family-owned ranch where they have built a genetically forward cattle herd. I have always enjoyed spending time on the ranch being surrounded by the animals. In addition to our success in the cattle industry, my father helped improve the quarter horse genetics of Paraguay. This is something I was proud to help him promote through equine shows and competitions with our horses starting in 2011 when I was 13 years old.
At just 16 year old, I was one of the leading riders in the reining competitions in Paraguay, competing in and winning the 2014 Paraguayan Reining Championship.
In April of the same year, I received difficult news when I was diagnosed with cancer after weeks of testing and surgery. My reining career was over as I was not allowed to be physically active for a year. After a year long struggle with physical, emotional, spiritual hardships and multiple medical checks, I was and still am cancer free.
Not long after receiving this exciting news, I was invited to participate in the Oklahoma City Futurity. I only had two weeks to prepare, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I was the first Paraguayan to participate in the show.
A year after my cancer diagnosis, I received more disappointing news regarding my health when I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. However, I was not going to let my illness deter me from my dreams. I graduated from high school in 2017 and took an internship on a ranch in the United States. This gave me the opportunity to take English classes for six months, becoming trilingual.
This was my first time being away from home for such a long time, but it made me independent and responsible. Due to financial reasons, I returned to Paraguay, but still dreamed of returning to the United States to further my education.
Shortly after returning home, I was invited to participate in the NRHA/ANCR International Cup in Brazil to represent Paraguay. My team and I placed second.
After a few challenges getting into my desired school in the United States, I was accepted to start school in 2018. I had to move internationally by myself to start school. Talk about nerve wracking! In 2019, I transferred to Texas A&M University which was a dream come true.
Once here, I applied and was rejected to both the Equestrian Team and the Stock Horse Team. But I didn’t let that stop me. I continued to look for ways to be involved with horses. I found the Summer Horsemanship School program which seemed to be a perfect fit for me. I was selected to be an instructor for the program and found my passion for teaching. In addition, during my first year here, I joined the Texas Aggie Cattlewomen where I worked my way up over time and was elected vice president. During the summer I looked for ways to continue my education through internships. One of my most successful internships was with the R.A. Brown Ranch in 2020. Check out some highlights and photos from that opportunity below!
Overall, life has taught me to dream big and never give up. You can accomplish great things regardless of where you grow up. If you set your heart to it and put in effort and hard work, you will go far. Seeing now how far I’ve come in life and with the finish line of graduation so close, I am deeply grateful for my journey. There were moments in life when I thought everything was coming to an end, but God has proven to me otherwise and shown me nothing is impossible through Him.