"I have such fond memories of all my classmates and can't believe how well everyone is doing in so many diverse fields."

Adam Orandi '88 grew up in a big family in Fergus Falls, Minn., before he and his mother moved to Saint Paul. In eighth grade, he enrolled in MPA, where he immediately felt at home. "MPA really nurtured me while challenging me—it was just what I needed when I needed it."

Adam says his MPA education served him well as an entrepreneur and business leader. "MPA taught us to be independent thinkers and, through healthy, emotional, and engaging discussions, we were expected to decide where we ethically stood on key issues. We were taught to dig deep in search of truth, find our position, and defend it. It was powerful."

After studying business in college, Adam chose to join his father in California on the family's farm, where they cultivated heritage varieties of Persian pistachios, some brought when his father immigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s. In 2010, after a stint in the retail food and beverage industry and some real soul-searching, he returned to purchase, modernize, and expand their processing capabilities. They currently have a large grove and process pistachios for another 25 growers in California's San Joaquin Valley.

In 2014, Adam married Pamela, a marketing and public relations specialist who now works with him at ARO Pistachios. "I love that we are a family farm that's making it in a world surrounded by big global food companies," Adam shares. Reserving a little time for relaxation, Adam enjoys snow skiing in California and Utah, as well as beaches (Hawaii has the best, in his opinion). He also flies a private plane.

When it comes to giving back to his industry and his community, he's active there, too. Adam serves on the American Pistachio Growers Association Board of Directors and has been involved in state and federal policy development for his industry. Adam also volunteers with the local Boys & Girls Club.

As for favorite MPA memories, Adam stays connected with teachers like Ms. Shardlow and Mr. Meacock, and he fondly recalls Ms. Conway's "Scramble for Africa" project as well as the amazing hands-on science experiments that Dr. Wainwright led.

Adam Orandi
Adam Orandi spoke to us from ARO Pistachio headquarters in Visalia, Calif. A sixth-generation pistachio grower on his father's side, Adam has taken a circuitous route to the challenging and rewarding career that he loves.