Dreams in Bloom

Scholarship winner grew up growing flowers, plans a career in the floral business

Sonora Rapatz started growing and selling flowers at a farmer’s market when she was just nine years old. Rapatz acknowledged that her mother helped a great deal at first, buying the seeds and helping to decide where to plant, how to grow and when to harvest.

Sonora Rapatz“Each year, I started doing more and more of the work myself,” Rapatz says. “I learned from each year’s experience, and I started researching and reading books. Every year, I made more money, gained more experience and continued to see my business expand.”

Rapatz is all about variety. She began by growing pumpkins to sell, along with handmade beaded jewelry and healthy dog treats.

She sold at several different farmers’ markets over the years, eventually expanding to doing weddings by order. Rapatz’s wedding orders varied from simple table arrangements to growing and arranging bouquets and boutonnieres for entire wedding parties.

“I continued to grow and sell cut flowers until I graduated high school, moved out of my parents’ house and away from their farm,” Rapatz says.

Her floral business has allowed her passion to bloom and grow into a future career. Rapatz is looking forward to taking a floral design class next semester. While her track within the Plant Sciences major is Nursery and Floriculture, having a floral business is most exciting to her. She also says that working for a botanical garden or nursery, or seeking work in “new interest crops,” are also possibilities. 

Rapatz was the first one to attend the University of Minnesota from her family, and is the only person in her immediate family to earn a college degree. She currently holds an Associate of Arts degree from Lake Superior College, and is working toward earning her bachelor's degree in CFANS. The Land O'Lakes Multi-functional Agricultural & Food Systems scholarship is helping her reach her goals.  

Although the University of Minnesota is in the Twin Cities, Rapatz loves the small-town environment that CFANS exemplifies. She chose the University of Minnesota because she wanted to attend a large and respected university that had various options for degrees, classes, and other opportunities. The location and the beautiful campus secured her choice.

“I love that CFANS offers a close and personal feel and has a lot of unique attributes. I like the small class sizes in comparison to the huge general chemistry lectures. I’ve also gone on quite a few field trips. The labs, which are hands-on and sometimes outside, have been some of the most enjoyable parts of classes,” Rapatz says.

After graduation, Rapatz plans to travel and seek a new career. Her friends describe her as motivated, adaptable and energetic. She loves keeping busy and going on adventures to visit new places, trying new foods and experiencing the outdoors.

Rapatz works in the Plant Growth Facility which “has been a really interesting experience.” She enjoys the St. Paul campus in general, especially the Trial and Display Garden.

“My favorite things about going to the U of M are my job as an undergraduate research assistant for the horticultural science department, and the people I’ve gotten to meet here,” she says.

—Becky Church